Madrid claim record 19th win

Real Madrid set a new Spanish record of 19 straight victories as they beat Ludogorets 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

With top spot in Group B already sealed, Los Blancos could afford to rest a succession of their stars, including Iker Casillas, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Karim Benzema.

In their places came Keylor Navas, Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Arbeloa, Nacho, Raphael Varane and Javier Hernandez. Asier Illarramendi, meanwhile, continued in midfield, this time in James Rodriguez's absence.

Having already matched Barcelona's landmark streak of 18 during the 2005-06 season, Madrid knew that they need to secure just one more win to surpass their arch-rivals. The best Ludogorets could hope for, on the other hand, was qualification for the Europa League knockouts after their failure to beat Liverpool a fortnight ago.

Cristiano Ronaldo sent out an early warning shot from 30 yards out, forcing Vladislav Stoyanov into a reflex stop. Isco was next up, but again the goalkeeper came to the rescue, vetoing the Spaniard's lob with crucial block.

Illarramendi's passing ability was highlighted in the build-up to Isco's chance, and he exhibited such vision again with fine work to feed Ronaldo, who took a touch before unleashing a piledriver towards goal. However, Cosmin Moti was the right place at the right time with the deflection.

Ludogorets were in no way out of sight, as three of their four attempts at goal were on target. Virgil Misidjan's effort was the pick of the bunch, as his curling strike from a rare counterattack was spectacularly punched away by Keylor Navas.

Nonetheless, Madrid eventually broke the deadlock, albeit with some luck. Marcelinho was sent off for a deliberate handball to deny Varane on the line, despite Gareth Bale volleying home the rebound. Up stepped Ronaldo from the penalty spot, sending the ball straight down the middle.

Toni Kroos and Bale may have spurned two more shooting opportunities to put daylight between themselves and the Bulgarian champions before the break, but the pair teamed up for the hosts' second goal, the German's corner being met by the No 11, who crashed in a header off the underside of the bar.

Madrid started the second half in similar fashion to the first, with Bale squandering another opportunity, as latched onto Kroos' inch-perfect through ball but failed to poke his finish beyond Stoyanov in close promixity of the Ludogorets' goal.

However, Los Merengues were almost stunned when Diakov blasted a thunderous drive from some way out, requiring Navas to push the ball over the bar with a fingertip save.

From thereon, Madrid remained in cruise control. Isco's forward-thinking play on the edge of the box saw him lay the ball off to Chicharito on his left. The Mexican, however, could only curl a close-range finish straight at Stoyanov.

Bale was unfortunate to not be awarded a penalty after a clear handball blocked his goal-bound header, but he was again found wanting when he fizzed a strike across goal. Ronaldo was then a split-second too late after he flung himself onto Welshman's attempt.

With none of Madrid's forwards firing on all cylinders, it took Arbeloa to put the result beyond doubt. The full-back had headed a corner onto the bar, but he made no mistake about sweeping home Ronaldo's flick-on from another set-piece minutes later.

The three points were well and truly in the bag with just seconds of normal time left on the clock, as substitute Alvaro Medran’s left-footed strike hit Anicet Abel and looped into the back of the net.

Real Madrid 4-0 Ludogorets

Ronaldo 20, Bale 38, Arbeloa 79, Medran 88

Real Madrid: Navas; Arbeloa, Nacho, Varane, Coentrao (Marcelo 60); Illarramendi, Kroos (Jese 60), Isco; Bale (Medran 83), Chicharito, Ronaldo

Ludogorets: Stoyanov; Caicara, Terziev, Moti, Minev; Misidjan (Juninho 75), Dyakov, Espinho (Abel 63), Aleksandrov (Wanderson 61); Marcelinho (R), Abalo

Referee: Clement Turpin [FRA]

Tags Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Ludogorets
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