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Benzema double all but ends APOEL's fairytale run

Benzema double all but ends APOEL's fairytale run

Updated: 2012-03-29 07:51

(China Daily)

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A Karim Benzema double helped nine-time winner Real Madrid to a 3-0 away win over Cypriot surprise package APOEL in their Champions League quarterfinal first-leg clash on Tuesday.

APOEL put up a stubborn rearguard action in a contest it was, as expected, largely outplayed by its illustrious and more famous opponent.

It took three goals in the final 15 minutes to seal victory and an all but likely berth in the semifinals barring a miracle.

The Spanish millionaires left it late against the unheralded Cypriot minnow which failed to muster a shot on target.

Afterwards, APOEL's Serb coach, Ivan Jovanovic, said he had no complaints about the outcome.

Benzema double all but ends APOEL's fairytale run

"I think the scoreline is justified. We managed to contain Real up to a point but in the second half they applied more pressure and the goal made it easier for them.

"Certainly Real are in the semifinals of the Champions League and I personally believe they will reach the final and I hope they win the trophy," he said.

He said meeting Real in the quarterfinals was an 'honor' and the pinnacle of his team's success in the competition.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho paid tribute to the Cypriots and Jovanovic saying his side had to be on top form to win this encounter.

"What they have done is fantastic. We had to play at our best to win, they defended well and APOEL deserve our respect," Mourinho said.

He applauded APOEL's players after the whistle because they deserved it as the team of the tournament.

"APOEL reaching the quarterfinals makes them the most important team of this competition no matter who wins the trophy."

It seemed only a matter of time before Real would stamp its superiority over the Cypriots, but the killer blow didn't come until the 74th minute when Benzema headed in a delightful cross from substitute Kaka.

And Kaka put the game - and maybe the tie - beyond doubt when he slotted in from close range after fellow Brazilian and substitute Marcelo raced into the box and found him unmarked.

Benzema got his second on a quick counter, scoring from close range from a Mesut Ozil cross on 90 minutes.

Real could have scored a hatful but it spurned a series of golden opportunities.

Miss of the game and maybe this Champions League saw Benzema put the ball over the bar from two meters out with an open goal at his mercy.

He was set up perfectly by a cross from Nuri Sahin following some trademark trickery from Cristiano Ronaldo on 33 minutes.

And the Cypriot defense found it hard to cope with the Portuguese superstar who had several attempts on goal without finding that killer touch that has seen him score a 100 goals for Real in record time.

His best chance of the first half saw him flash a shot wide of the far post just before the interval.

Agence France-Presse in Nicosia