APOEL vs. Real Madrid  0 - 3


Benzema happy despite Real struggle

28 March 2012 10:06

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema said the Champions League win over APOEL on Tuesday did not come easy.

Jose Mourinho's men were unable to breach the APOEL defence in the opening 45 minutes in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

But the Spanish giants eventually broke the deadlock in the 74th minute when Kaka set up Benzema for the opener, before the pair added two more in the closing stages for a 3-0 away win.

"It was a very difficult game, especially in the first half," Benzema told the Madrid website.

"The game improved after half-time and we earned a very important victory. We will keep it up in the return leg.

"APOEL are a very tough opponent and made things hard for us. This is an important victory, but this isn't over yet. We want to give a good performance before our fans in the return leg.

"I had a very good chance to score before I netted my first, but I tallied two in the end and that's what matters. We did very well and took a major step towards winning the tie."

The second leg is at the Santiago Bernabeu on April 4.


Mourinho hails Kaka, Marcelo influence

28 March 2012 02:54

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho praised resilient opponents APOEL Nicosia after his side's comfortable 3-0 win in the Champions League.

It took the La Liga side 74 minutes to open the scoring after some staunch defending from the hosts at GSP Stadium, but the introduction of Kaka turned things in their favour as the Brazilian assisted Karim Benzema's to their opening goal before adding the game's second himself.

Mourinho said it was a brave performance from the Cypriot side, but he also reserved praise for his own players.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Mourinho said: "It took many minutes to score the first goal, but APOEL were performing very well.

"We won the match because we played well. APOEL were great defensively and they had great team spirit.

"We give 100 percent so we can win. What APOEL are doing is fantastic."

Mourinho was pleased with the impact made by the introduction of Kaka and Marcelo - as their substitutions galvanised the side and ultimately made the difference.

"We knew it was going to be a complicated match but sending on Kaka and Marcelo was decisive," he said.

"We were serious and we played well. This shows how much respect we have for APOEL.

"I would like to show the same respect at the (Santiago) Bernabeu. They are the most important team of this Champions League."

Mourinho looks set to continue his perfect quarter-final record as Madrid host APOEL in the return leg in Spain next week with a comfortable three-goal advantage.

And APOEL boss Ivan Jovanovic conceded that Madrid already had one foot in the semi-finals.

Jovanovic had no complaints about the final scoreline and was full of praise for a Madrid team that he believes is bound for Munich.

"The result was fair," the Serbian said.

"We tried to contain them but they upped their tempo towards the end and we couldn't hold on.

"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.

"It was very gratifying to play against a team like Real Madrid. We all saw first-hand 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."


Champions League: APOEL Nicosia 0 Real Madrid 3

27 March 2012 22:59

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.


Champions League preview: APOEL v Real Madrid

26 March 2012 09:20

Real Madrid have a huge chance to qualify for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals when they travel to Cyprus to play APOEL on Tuesday.

Madrid have seemingly drawn the easiest quarter-final opponent in the Champions League and are considered huge favourites ahead of Tuesday's first leg in Nicosia.

The La Liga leaders are the most successful club in the history of the Champions League and, the competition's predecessor, the European Cup, having been crowned champions nine times.

Madrid's manager Jose Mourinho will be wary, however, of complacency, which has seemingly been an issue for his star-studded squad over the past couple of weeks.

Since the club from Spain's capital beat CSKA Moscow to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, they have been held to surprising draws in two of their three subsequent matches.

Madrid conceded late goals against Malaga and Villarreal in 1-1 draws last week before getting back on track with a 5-1 thumping of Real Sociadad on Saturday.

But if Mourinho's side slackens off on Tuesday they could be in for a rude shock.

APOEL are the first Cypriot club to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Their success in this season's Champions League has been built on tight defence and good home form, with five wins from seven games in their own stadium.

In their round of 16 match-up, APOEL managed only one shot on goal in their 1-0 away leg defeat against Olympic Lyon as they focused on restricting the French side.

The Cypriots increased that statistic to three in the home leg as they beat Lyon 1-0 on the night and then 4-3 on penalties to reach the quarter-final stage.

While Madrid have won seven of their eight Champions League games this season, APOEL have shown they can compete against Europe's big clubs having beaten Lyon, FC Porto and Zenit St Petersburg in their run to the quarter-finals.

APOEL head into Tuesday's game in third position in their local competition. They drew 0-0 with local rivals Omonia Nicosia on Saturday.

1. Division table

# Team MP D P
1 29 +59 70
2 29 +47 67
3 29 +25 60
4 29 +35 58
5 29 +13 51

La Liga table

# Team MP D P
1 29 +61 75
2 29 +35 64
3 29 +40 60
4 29 +26 59
5 29 +7 47
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