Real Madrid vs. APOEL  5 - 2

Article

Champions League: Real Madrid 5 APOEL 2

5 April 2012 04:09

Real Madrid can boast the highest-scoring trio in Spanish football history as they strolled into the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have now scored 101 goals between them in the 2011-12 season, beating the 100 goal mark of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry, set during Barcelona's treble winning campaign of 2008-09.

The 5-2 victory over APOEL in their second-leg encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu was an enticing game from start to finish.

A brace from Ronaldo, alongside further strikes from Kaka, Jose Callejon and Angel Di Maria ended the fairytale run of the brave outfit from Cyprus with an 8-2 aggregate scoreline.

However, Jose Mourinho will likely be frustrated with two lapses in concentration that allowed Gustavo Manduca to finish off a great APOEL move, before Esteban Solari struck from the spot after an infraction by Hamit Altintop.

With a 3-0 deficit to overcome after the first leg, APOEL were always going to need a near miracle to progress, particularly against a Madrid team in imperious form in Europe.

The Spanish outfit had won eight of their nine matches on the continent this season while conceding only four times, the lowest in the competition.

Indeed, Mourinho’s men picked up where they left off after the initial encounter in Cyprus, dominating play right from the start of the match.

Ronaldo sent a towering header just over the bar from Nuri Sahin’s free kick with 20 minutes gone, but the Portuguese forward would not be denied much longer, as six minutes later, he turned home a teasing cross by Marcelo at the far post.

Ten minutes later, and Madrid were 2-0 in front after a goal of undeniable quality from Kaka. The Brazilian received a pass from compatriot Marcelo 25 yards from goal and took one touch before unleashing an unstoppable shot that bent past the helpless Pardo into the top corner.

APOEL gained some encouragement from the lethargic play of the hosts, and grabbed themselves a consolation with a well worked goal after 67 minutes.

Some slick interplay in the Madrid half ended with a clever reverse pass from Ailton to Manduca, who coolly sidefooted home to send the away fans into raptures.

However, Ronaldo brought the visitors back down to earth with a stunning set-piece with a quarter of an hour to go. Taking aim from a tricky angle on the left side of the box, the Portuguese sent the ball past the despairing fingertips of Pardo into the top corner for his first goal direct from a free kick this season.

Half-time substitute Callejon got in on the act in the 80th minute, smashing home Di Maria’s pass at the near post for the home side's fourth.

Madrid were breached once again within two minutes though, after a foul by Altintop was spotted by the referee, allowing Solari the chance to beat Iker Casillas with a composed finish from the spot.

Di Maria added further gloss to the scoreline in the 84th minute with an impudent chip over Pardo, after sprinting in unopposed from midfield.

Madrid march into an enticing semi-final match-up against Bayern Munich, with the first leg set to be played on April 17 at the Allianz Arena in Germany.

Article

APOEL coach realistic over Real task

4 April 2012 03:53

APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic remains upbeat despite facing a rampaging Real Madrid to stay alive in the Champions League on Wednesday.

APOEL's remarkable run in Europe's elite club competition looks set to end at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Madrid holding a commanding 3-0 advantage in the quarter-final tie.

The Cyprus club held Jose Mourinho's side for 74 minutes in last week's first leg before a Karim Benzema brace and Kaka goal all but secured Real a semi-final berth.

However, Jovanovic believes his side have much to gain from the experience and has taken APOEL's entire squad to the Spanish capital, including injured winger Ivan Trickovski and defender Marcelo Oliveria.

"We are in the best eight of Europe and there will be a lot of great experiences we can gain from this," Jovanovic said.

"These games are very important for the future of APOEL's football.

"In the important matches we've had strong rivals against us.

"These are teams that want to win the Champions League and I want my team to do well.

"In any case Real Madrid is almost in the next phase because the first result was very positive for them."

Madrid is undefeated in all competitions since January and manager Mourinho will field a strong side for the second leg.

"Not many people think that APOEL can come here and win 4-0, but we have to respect our fans and the opponent," Mourinho said.

"There will be very few changes and we will play with a very strong team."

Real will face Bayern Munich should they overcome APOEL, while Chelsea will host Benfica in Wednesday's other quarter-final, with the winner to take on defending champions Barcelona for a place in the final.

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Champions League preview: Real Madrid v Apoel Nicosia

4 April 2012 03:12

Only a minor miracle can prevent Real Madrid from progressing past APOEL Nicosia in their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

After Real scored a 3-0 win in the first leg in Cyprus last week, APOEL would need to win by at least three goals at the Bernabeu in the return leg to have any hope of making an unlikely appearance in the semi-finals.

But given Jose Mourinho's side have conceded three goals in a match just twice this season (both times against Barcelona) the odds of APOEL pulling off an upset seem astronomical.

The Cypriot club stunned Lyon in the round of 16 to reach their first ever continental quarter-final, but even coach Ivan Jovanovic admits his side are not capable of beating Madrid's high-paid stars.

"Madrid are in the semi-finals; there is no question about that. I even believe that they will reach the final and, hopefully, win it," Jovanovic said after APOEL's loss in the first leg.

"It was very gratifying to play against a team like Real Madrid. We all saw firsthand what a quality side they are.

"You could say this game was a crowning moment for the fantastic campaign we produced this season in the competition.

"My players have done themselves proud throughout this campaign and once again against superior opponents like Madrid."

A one-sided affair is on the cards at the Bernabeu, with Real having scored 13 goals in their past three matches after successive 5-1 wins in La Liga.

However, Mourinho may choose to rest some of his stars given his side face a challenging match against Valencia just four days after the visit of APOEL, followed by a derby away against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo has grabbed all the headlines, the form of French striker Karim Benzema also has Mourinho smiling.

Benzema has scored five goals in his last three appearances to take his tally to 28 for the season, while Mourinho also has plenty of depth in his squad, with Raul Albiol and Esteban Granero two of the peripheral figures who may see some game time against APOEL.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 8 +22 22
2 8 +7 19
3 8 +21 18
4 8 +10 17
5 8 +7 17

1. Division table

# Team MP D P
1 6 +8 16
2 6 +1 12
3 6 +8 11
4 6 +4 11
5 6 +2 10