Real Madrid advanced to the knockout stage of the Champions League for the 25th straight season on Wednesday after a comfortable 3-0 win at Sheriff.
David Alaba, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema scored to secure the Spanish powerhouse a spot in the round of 16 with one game to spare in Group D.
The result eliminated Sheriff, the Moldovan league club that is debuting in the group stage. Sheriff had stunned Madrid with a win in the Spanish capital in their first game.
It was the fifth consecutive win in all competitions for Madrid, which reached 12 points from five matches, two points more than second-place Inter Milan which has also advanced. Inter beat last-place Shakhtar 2-0 at home earlier Wednesday. Sheriff stayed on six points.
Sheriff could have advanced with a win against Madrid if Inter lost to Shakhtar. It started its first group-stage campaign with consecutive wins before losing two straight to Inter.
Sheriff entered the match against Madrid having won 12 of its last 13 home games in all competitions, with 10 clean sheets. It had scored in 11 of its last 12 European matches this season.
Madrid, a record 13-time European champion, has reached the knockout stages every time since the 1997-98 season. It failed to qualify for the competition in 1996-97.
Madrid, coming off consecutive wins over Shakhtar, dominated from the start against Sheriff, controlling possession and creating the most significant scoring chances.
Alaba put Madrid ahead with a free kick that deflected off a defender before going into the net in the 30th minute. Kroos added to the lead in first-half stoppage time with a shot from outside the area that hit the crossbar and bounced just over the goal line.
Benzema, who had a goal disallowed for offside in the 10th, scored the third with a strike in the 55th.
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