x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Real Madrid keep hat-trick bid of Jose Mourinho on track

The Spanish giants beat APOEL 3-0 to increase the prospect of the Portuguese coach winning the Uefa Champions League with a third club.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema scoring in the 3-0 win against APOEL.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema scoring in the 3-0 win against APOEL.

Karim Benzema scored two late goals to help Real Madrid beat unheralded Cypriot team APOEL 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, while Chelsea also look good for the last four after a 1-0 win in Benfica.

APOEL was looking to cause one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition's knockout stages but couldn't hold out against the nine-time champions, with Benzema heading in the opener in the 74th minute from Kaka's cross.

The Brazilian playmaker, on as a second-half substitute, scored from close range in the 82nd from compatriot Marcelo's cross to make it 2-0 before Benzema wrapped up victory in the 90th.

Either Marseille or Bayern will surely be facing Madrid, which gave APOEL a reality check on the biggest night of the home side's history.

After beating Lyon in the last 16, the Cypriot team was looking to add an even more famous scalp on its historic run in the Champions League but Madrid gave an assured display that could easily have yielded a bigger margin of victory.

Benzema had somehow contrived to miss an open goal from five yards (meters) out before finally opening the scoring, diving to meet Kaka's cross from the left with a glancing header.

Kaka gave Madrid more of a cutting edge after coming on and neatly finished off good work on the left wing by fellow substitute Marcelo to end APOEL's hopes of a comeback.

Jose Mourinho, bidding to become the first coach to win the competition with three clubs, was able to celebrate a third goal approaching injury time when Benzema connected with a perfect pass from Mesut Oezil, his 25th goal in the Champions League in just 41 matches.

* Associated Press

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