Real Madrid booked a berth in the Champions League knockout stages with a match to spare after strolling to a 3-0 win at Moldovan rivals Sheriff Tiraspol in their lop-sided Group D clash on Wednesday.
Real top the group on 12 points from five games, two more than second-placed Inter Milan with the result also sending the Italian champions through after they beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0.
Third-placed Sheriff, who stunned Real 2-1 in the reverse fixture in September, are third on six points and assured of carrying on in the Europa League after the winter break. Fourth-placed Shakhtar have one point.
David Alaba fired Real ahead with a deflected free kick in the 30th minute and Toni Kroos doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime with a fine shot which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar.
Karim Benzema made it 3-0 with a sublime effort from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom corner after he was teed up by left back Ferland Mendy in the 55th minute, as Real kept their foot on the pedal.
The home side came close to pulling one back shortly after the hour as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois parried Adama Traore’s low drive and Sebastien Thill hit the post with a glancing header in the follow-up.
Home keeper Georgios Athanasiadis twice thwarted Marco Asensio in the dying minutes with a pair of brilliant saves as Real breezed comfortably into the business end of Europe’s premier club competition.
Real are at home to Inter in their final group match while Sheriff visit Shakhtar on Dec.7.