Champions League - Real vanquish valiant APOEL

Wed, 04 Apr 21:54:00 2012

Real Madrid beat APOEL 5-2 in their Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Bernabeu with another convincing victory over the Cypriot side, booking a last-four meeting with Bayern Munich in the process.

Real Madrid celebrate their opening goal against APOEL - 0

Though Real were two goals up at half-time thanks to strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, APOEL pulled one back in an entertaining second half through Gustavo Manduca before Ronaldo added his second of the night with a free-kick.

That sparked a flurry of four goals inside 10 minutes as Jose Callejon got his name on the scoresheet before Esteban Solari scored from the penalty spot for APOEL, but Angel Di Maria’s chip rounded off an 8-2 aggregate scoreline as Jose Mourinho’s team progressed without any problems.

Real stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 games with this win, and holding such a solid advantage from the first leg Real boss Mourinho made five changes to his side from that which beat APOEL eight days earlier, one of which included resting man of the moment Karim Benzema.

Real vanquish valiant APOEL

Ronaldo was one of those who remained in the starting XI from the first leg and the Portuguese was instrumental in what was a dominant display from the Spanish side. APOEL knew their task verged on the impossible after their first-leg defeat, but they held Real off for 26 minutes before Ronaldo opened the scoring.

A cross from the left by Marcelo was helped along with the faintest of touches from Gonzalo Higuain, and Ronaldo was free at the back post for a simple tap-in and his 48th goal of the season.

If Ronaldo’s effort was a relatively straightforward one Kaka’s goal in the 37th minute to double Real’s lead was a thing of beauty, as the Brazilian received the ball inside from compatriot Marcelo on the left and curled an unstoppable shot into the top-right corner from outside the area.

Moments later Kaka hit the post as Real threatened to match their first-leg score before the break, but it remained 2-0 even though APOEL did have what looked to be a half-decent penalty appeal waved away when Sergio Ramos brought down Ailton with a sliding challenge when it was still goalless. Despite that Real looked firmly in control throughout as APOEL were limited in their ventures forward.

The second half started in much the same manner as the first ended, with Real on top, but it did not stay that way for very long.

The home team enjoyed more possession than they had in the first half but were unable to crack their opponents for a third, and APOEL’s perseverance and determination to take at least a consolation goal away from the Bernabeu paid off in the 67th minute when Manduca slotted a cool finish past Iker Casillas after latching onto a neat Ailton through ball.

It launched a five-minute spell of ascendancy from APOEL in which they almost drew level when captain Constantinos Charalambides raced past Sergio Ramos, who slipped, and drew a save from Casillas.

It was a brief push though as Ronaldo added his second of the evening in the 75th minute with a superb free-kick from the left which APOEL goalkeeper Urko Pardo got his fingertips to in vain, as the ball curled into the top-right corner.

Substitute Callejon made it 4-1 with an assured finish when he chested the ball down and sent a low right-footed shot inside the left post, but immediately after Esteban Solari pulled another back for APOEL from the penalty spot.

Hamit Altintop brought Aldo Adorno down with a clumsy challenge from behind and Solari’s calmly-taken penalty beat Casillas to add another to the scoresheet for the visitors.

A breathless end to the game continued in the 84th minute when Di Maria, a second half substitute, put away a nonchalant but brilliant chip over Pardo to cap an action-packed second half.

Real Madrid beat APOEL 5-2 at home in their Champions League quarter-final second leg with another convincing victory over the Cypriot side. - 2


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