Looking for a Spanish record 19th consecutive win, the Merengues flew out of the blocks at high speed, showing their attacking intent from the off. Captain for the night Cristiano Ronaldo delivered the game’s first effort within the first minute, visiting goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov beginning what would prove to be a busy evening with a good save down to his right.
Stoyanov was tested again as he cut out Gareth Bale’s low cross from the right, before racing off his line to smother at the feet of Isco. Ronaldo had another effort deflected wide on the quarter-hour and it seemed just a matter of time before last season’s winners took the lead.
That goal duly arrived five minutes later. Midfielder Marcelinho blocked Raphaël Varane’s goal-bound header on the line with his hand and was dismissed; Ronaldo sent Stoyanov the wrong way from the penalty spot for his 72nd goal in the UEFA Champions League proper.
A goal and a man to the good, Madrid continued to dominate, and only a couple more smart stops from Stoyanov prevented them increasing their advantage. There was little the goalkeeper could do when Bale rose highest to meet a Toni Kroos corner, however, the Welshman heading in via the underside of the crossbar.
Although the Bulgarian champions promptly offered a rare foray forwards, Keylor Navas tipping Fábio Espinho’s attempt over the bar, the traffic continued to flow in one direction as the second half followed a similar pattern to the first.
Stoyanov repelled Bale and Javier Hernández, before the Liga leaders added gloss to the win late on. Álvaro Arbeloa turned in a third from a corner ten minutes from the end while substitute Álvaro Medrán crowned the victory with his first goal for Madrid’s senior side, his deflected effort from distance looping over Stoyanov.