Benzema and Ronaldo both grabbed hat-tricks as los Blancos secured a comfortable first-leg cushion...
Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were the heroes, both grabbing a hat-trick a piece, while Mesut Oezil and substitute Pedro Leon netted solitary strikes as rampant Real served up a Christmas cracker for the fans who turned out at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho put out a surprisingly strong starting XI, including star man Ronaldo, who was a pre-match doubt. However, it was team-mate Benzema who stole the show with a stunning first half performance.
Yet there was no sign of what was to come when he volleyed Ronaldo’s sumptuous flick wide from close range in the second minute.
Benzema did not let the miss affect him, however, and he opened the scoring four minutes later. The Frenchman pounced on to Xavi Torres’ slack pass, knocked the ball through Miquel Robuste’s legs and skipped past Torres before rifling the ball under Gustavo Munua.
The former Lyon man turned creator in the 10th minute when he set Ronaldo away with an angled pass. The Portuguese appeared to clip Cerra’s heels while bursting past him, but the referee saw no foul and waved play on. Ronaldo raced forward before sliding the ball to Oezil, who knocked the ball past Munua with his first touch and rolled the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
The pace was relentless and it was abundantly clear Mourinho had given his side clear instructions to put the tie to bed in the first leg.
Xabi Alonso, Benzema and Angel Di Maria all went incredibly close to extending the lead, while Asier Del Horno had Levante’s only shot on target in the first half when he unleashed a drive straight at Iker Casillas from 22 yards.
The effort offered Levante a little hope for a short period, but the home side were in a ruthless mood and Benzema cashed in on another defensive mistake for an easy third in the 32nd minute. This time Cerra failed to cut out a Di Maria pass and Benzema took full advantage by rounding the hopelessly exposed Munua.
Los Blancos were serving up some scintillating football and it was little more than they deserved when they made it four on the stroke of half-time. There was a strange sense of deja vu about the goal as Benzema took advantage of Sergio Ballesteros' woeful attempt to intercept Marcelo’s through ball and squared for Ronaldo, who had the simplest of tasks of tapping into an empty net.
After a slow start to the second 45, Mourinho’s men burst into life again on the hour mark. Benzema thought he’d secured his hat-trick when he latched on to Di Maria’s inventive flick and fired past Munua, but the strike was correctly ruled out for offside.
Benzema didn’t have long to wait for his third goal, however, arriving right on time to meet another delicious Di Maria flick with a deft touch of his own to lift the ball over the Levante number one to make it 5-0 in the 69th minute.
Di Maria seemed to be everywhere and he rolled the ball into Ronaldo’s path to score with a blistering strike in the 72nd minute.
Never to be outdone, Ronaldo matched Benzema's scoring exploits by completing his hat-trick just two minutes after scoring his second when he raced onto Benzema’s slide-rule pass and whipped the ball beyond Munua’s despairing dive.
Substitute Pedro Leon completed the scoring, and a perfect night for the home side, when he tapped into an unguarded net after superb work by fellow sub Alavaro Morato.
The sides meet again on January 4, 2011 in the Ciutat de Valencia for the second leg of the tie. However, both sets of players will be given a chance to recharge their batteries first, as Spanish competition takes a short winter break.
Click here for Goal.com's new video match highlights page