Champions League: Benzema, Kaka Lift Real Above Apoel


Karim Benzema and Kaka scored late goals to give Real Madrid a convincing 3-0 win at Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League quarter final first leg match on Tuesday.

The nine-times European champions dominated the match but Apoel, the first Cypriot side to reach the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition, defended solidly to frustrate their Spanish opponents until the last 15 minutes.

The arrival of Kaka as a substitute midway through the second half created the breakthrough, with the Brazilian producing a superb cross from the left for the diving Benzema to head powerfully home after 74 minutes.

Kaka slotted in the second goal from eight metres following a surging run down the left by his fellow substitute Marcelo and Benzema struck again in the last minute to put the La Liga leaders firmly on course for the semi final.

Apoel’s Brazilian defender Marcelo Oliveira was carried off on a stretcher after pulling his hamstring early in the match, but the home side initially made light of his absence.

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Benzema missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring late in the first half, as the French striker inexplicably directing the ball over the bar from close range with the goal gaping.

Apoel never threatened the Real defence but the Spanish side became increasingly frustrated by their inability to break through.

Cristiano Ronaldo caused problems without going close to scoring and it needed the introduction of Kaka to provide the spark for Real.

The playmaker cleverly set up the first goal for Benzema with a pinpoint cross and clinically converted Marcelo’s cutback before Mesut Ozil crossed for Benzema to tap in his second goal.

The second leg in Madrid takes place next Wednesday.

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