* Real's 6-1 win equals best away Champions League result
* Schalke crumble to worst defeat in European competition (Adds details)
Feb 26 (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema scored twice each as rampant Real Madrid ripped Schalke 04 apart with an empathic, one-sided 6-1 away win in the first leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.
Benzema and Bale quickly put Real in control as Real raced to a 2-0 lead in 21 minutes at the Stadion Gelsenkirchen and Ronaldo also hit the post before the break.
Ronaldo increased the lead with his 10th goal of the competition in the 52nd minute before setting up Benzema for the fourth with a delightful flick five minutes later.
Bale added the fifth in the 69th minute and Ronaldo rounded off the rout before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled one back in stoppage time as Schalke slumped to their heaviest defeat in European competition.
Schalke, backed by a fervent crowd, began brightly and nearly went ahead went Benedikt Hoewedes headed wide from 12 metres in the first minute.
But Real quickly showed their class as Benzema fired home in the 13th minute after Ronaldo's attempted backheel slipped through Felipe Santana's legs.
Schalke's Julian Draxler was denied at point blank-range by Iker Casillas one minute later but the Bundesliga team's hopes were effectively killed off after another Santana mishap set up Bale, who squeezed between two defenders to score the second.
Ronaldo hit the inside of the post and saw another shot blocked by goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann before the break as Schalke lost their shape.
The Portuguese, clearly frustrated by those misses, got on the scoresheet in the 52nd minute when he slipped past Joel Matip on the outside and fired past Faehrmann.
Schalke were by now in tatters and offered little resistance as Benzema combined with Ronaldo to add the fourth and Sergio Ramos sent Bale clear for the fifth in the 69th.
An utterly embarrassing evening for the hosts was completed with Ronaldo's second, and 11th of the competition, when he ran onto Benzema's through ball and rounded the keeper to score as Real equalled their best away result in the Champions League.
Huntelaar's consolation goal hardly makes the task facing Schalke just to safe face at the Bernabeu in the second leg any easier. (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Rex Gowar)