Champions League: APOEL Nicosia 0 Real Madrid 3
Real Madrid moved closer to a Champions League semi-final spot, after beating APOEL Nicosia 3-0 in their quarter-final in Cyprus on Tuesday.
Three second-half goals - two to Karim Benzema and one to Kaka - gave Jose Mourinho's men a priceless away win at GSP Stadium, which virtually seals their spot in the final four after the first leg.
A diving header from the Frenchman Benzema saw Real break down a resistant APOEL, as he completed an in-swinging cross from substitute Kaka.
A cool side-footed finish from Kaka himself and another easy strike for the former Lyon striker Benzema banished any Cypriot hopes of holding on for a stalemate, as the Spanish side's quality eventually shone through.
With APOEL playing the biggest game in their history, it was no surprise that they came out of the blocks full of energy, and the home side really tried to put Real under extreme pressure early on.
It did not take long though before Madrid were establishing the natural order, as they started to dominate possession and create chances.
Within the space of three minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Benzema all had half-chances, but it took until the 15th minute when they had their first real opportunity to open the scoring.
A ball from Ozil played in Fabio Coentrao, but the Portuguese full-back snatched at his shot and fired wide from inside the area.
The Cypriot champions were coping exceptionally well with the relentless wave of Madrid attacks, but they nearly found themselves a goal down on 33 minutes.
A beautiful ball across the six-yard box from Nuri Sahin evaded APOEL keeper Dionisios Chiotis, found Benzema unmarked at the far post, but the French international missed the target and sliced his shot over the bar.
Mourinho's half-time speech seemed to work on his charges, as they increased their intensity and attacking impetus during the opening exchanges of the second half.
Ozil, Sahin and Sami Khedira were creating some wonderful midfield triangles, but as with the first 45 minutes, Ivan Jovanovic's side were defending at their very best to block any attempts at their goal.
With an hour gone, the Spanish side had completed 416 passes compared to APOEL's 94; but it took until the 74th minute for the La Liga leaders' class to truly show.
Kaka put in a dangerous ball from the left, found the head of Benzema, who got down low and slotted the ball into the back of the net from six yards.
The tiring APOEL legs were starting to show and seven minutes later, Real doubled their advantage.
Again down the left, Marcelo played it back from the byline, and Kaka coolly slotted it past Chiotis to sink all Cypriot hopes.
Madrid then took the tie out of sight on 90 minutes. A burst from midfield by Ronaldo took him to the edge of the area, he played it square to Ozil.
The German superstar passed it first time across the six-yard box, for Benzema to tap in.
The Spanish giants looked for a fourth goal without success, but they will go into the second leg next Wednesday at Santiago Bernabeu with one foot in the semi-finals.