x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Real Madrid ease past Lyon to reach Champions League last eight

Real Madrid reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years, beating Lyon 3-0 on the night to seal their passage.

Cristiano Ronaldo, centre, attacks the Lyon defence during Real Madrid's 3-0 second-leg win against the French club at the Bernabeu.
Cristiano Ronaldo, centre, attacks the Lyon defence during Real Madrid's 3-0 second-leg win against the French club at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid 3 // Lyon 0 (Real Madrid win 4-1 on aggregate)

MADRID // Real Madrid reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years, beating Lyon 3-0 after goals from Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria.

Real went through 4-1 on aggregate, reaching the final stages for the first time since losing in the 2004 semi-finals to Monaco.

With the tie at 1-1, Marcelo received the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo on his return from injury and dribbled free into the area before beating goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a curling shot in the 37th minute.

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Lyon turned the ball over often at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and paid for it when Benzema slipped the ball under Lloris in a one-on-one chance in the 66th. Di Maria scored on a counter-attack 10 minutes later to seal the match for the nine-time champions.

"We couldn't match them tonight. We came up against a very good team that closed us down from the outset," Claude Puel, the Lyon coach, said. "We couldn't loosen up, we made a lot of mistakes and we showed nerves."

Real had previously lost to Juventus, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Liverpool and Lyon in the last-16 stage before hiring the two-time Champions League-winning coach Jose Mourinho before the season.

Mourinho's hopes of becoming the first coach to win three European Cups with three different clubs remains intact. The Portuguese led FC Porto to the 2004 title before guiding Inter Milan to last year's victory.

Friday's draw will determine which of the other last-16 victors that Real will face. They are Inter, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of the match in respect of the victims of Friday's deadly earthquake in Japan. All players also sported shirts with "Get Well Abidal" after the match for Barcelona defender Eric Abidal, who was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver on Tuesday.

While Ronaldo did show some rustiness throughout from a two-game injury layoff, the Portugal forward controlled Marcelo's pass before sliding a perfect delivery back for the Brazilian fullback to put Real ahead.

Marcelo cut inside Dejan Lovren on to his favoured left foot and struck a shot that Lloris couldn't keep out despite getting a touch.

Real showed verve throughout, pouncing on Lyon's lethargic play in the second half, as exemplified by Marcelo stealing possession before sending a long ball upfield that ran for Benzema to collect and roll through the legs of Lloris.

Lovren then failed to react quickly to Mesut Oezil's headed pass, sending Di Maria through alone to scoop a shot over Lloris.

Lloris turned away most of Real's chances but also had help when Sami Khedira's header came off the near post in the fourth minute - the third time Real had been thwarted by the goal-frame in the tie.

Lloris caught Ronaldo's header in the 17th, just before Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas stretched to push Lisandro Lopez's shot - and Lyon's best chance - wide.

Real showed some nerves in the first half despite numerous counterattacks off Lyon's turnovers, including when Lloris tipped Ronaldo's rising shot over the bar after Sergio Ramos had found the Portugal forward with a long ball.

Invigorated by his goal, Marcelo burst forward in the 41st to feed Benzema, but Lloris tipped the Frenchman's shot over the bar.

Lyon substitute Bafetimi Gomis, who scored in the first leg, replaced Jimmy Briand to start the second half as Lyon the visitors looked for more attacking intent. Gomis tested Casillas with Lyon's only chance of the second half.

Real had space to counterattack as Lyon pressed, and Oezil forced Lloris into a save in the 55th from one breakaway.

Benzema scored his sixth goal of the competition before nearly adding a second when he volleyed Oezil's cross over the bar in the 68th.

Oezil, who has assumed the playmaking role with Brazil international Kaka struggling for form after injury, continued to dictate Real's attack and passed to Di Maria for the last goal as Lyon's defence crumbled.

"The second goal hurt us. From there the match was pegged back," Puel said. "Bravo to Real because they largely deserved the victory."