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Thursday, April 05, 2012 1:07:44 PM (IST)  

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Real Madrid Breeze Past Apoel, Chelsea Beat Benfica

Madrid, Apr 5 (IANS): Real Madrid qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 5-2 win over Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia while Chelsea edged past Portuguese club Benfica and will face defending champions Barcelona in the last four.

The win Wednesday gave Madrid an overall 8-2 aggregate triumph following their 3-0 win in Cyrpus last week and means they will now face Bayern Munich for a place in the final.

Bayern will be the first side from any of Europe's top four leagues (England, Spain, Italy and Germany) that Madrid have faced in Europe this season, Xinhua reported.

With the tie virtually resolved last week, Madrid coach Jose Mourinho resisted the temptation to rest key many players, although Xabi Alonso, Karim Bezema and Mesut Ozil all began the game on the bench.

Madrid enjoyed over 70 percent of possession but failed to open the scoring against their rivals, who spent most of the time camped deep in their own half, until the 26th minute when Ronaldo followed in on the far post to finish a Marcelo cross.

Kaka added the second ten minutes later with a magnificent curling shot into the top corner of the net and before the break he was unlucky to see another shot rebound off the post.

The second half saw Madird sit back slightly and APOEL scored a consolation goal from Gustavo Manduca after 66 minutes. That sparked a reaction from Madrid and Ronaldo scored his second of the night with a curling free kick and Javier Callejon added a fourth, shortly after coming on as substitute.

APOEL scored a second from the penalty spot thanks to Esteban Solari, whose brother Santiago had played for Real the last time they lifted the Champions League.

Angel de Maria continued his recovery from a hamstring problem and rounded off the scoring with a lovely chip to send the Madrid fans home happy.

Meanwhile, Chelsea ground out a 2-1 win over Benfica at home and took the overall aggregate to 3-1 in their favour. Though it was not all plain sailing for the men in Blue, Benfica held most of the possession and were the better side on the day.

Frank Lampard opened the scoring from the spot kick for the London club much against the play after Ashley Cole was brought down in the box. Benfica attacked Chelsea with great vigour but to their frustration were not able to find the equaliser.

The Portuguese club were then dealt a body blow when defender Maxi Pereira was sent off five minutes before half time.

Chelsea missed a few sitters and should have easily doubled their lead. The Londoners were made to pay for their missed chances when Javi Garcia headed in the equaliser in the 85th minute.

With 10 men Benfica searched for their second which would have put them in the last four but in stoppage time, substitute Raul Meireles sealed the win for Chelsea with a cracking shot from outside the box.



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