No one gave the Cypriot minnows a chance against the might of Jose Mourinho’s star-studded line-up, but Ivan Jovanvic’s men managed to hold their illustrious visitors for 74 minutes at the GSP Stadium.
However, their fairytale story was crushed by the second half introduction of Kaka and Marcelo, as the two substitutes inspired the Spanish side to victory.
Benzema was the first to strike in the final 16 minutes, converting a pinpoint cross from Kaka.
The provider than turned scorer as he made the most of a pull-back from Marcelo.
Benzema added his second and Madrid’s third before the final whistle, stroking the ball into an empty net, following a cross from Mesut Ozil.
As expected, Jovanovic set his team out to frustrate and disrupt Real Madrid’s dynamic attacking football.
Their defensive banks maintained their shape and discipline as the visitors swept the ball across the pitch in a bid to draw their opponents out.
When Mourinho’s men did break through the home side’s rearguard their finishing abandoned them.
Ozil was the first to waste an opportunity. The German returned Paulo Gomes’s headed clearance with interest, but APOEL goalkeeper Dionsis Chiotis was equal to it, diving to this right to beat the volley away.
It was only a matter of time before Madrid’s goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo tested Chiotis and as the half hour mark approached the Portuguese attacker stung the goalkeeper’s hands with a left footed shot.
Minutes later Benzema – who had scored 12 goals in 17 games in 2012 prior to this match – added a clip to this year’s blooper reel.
Nuri Sahin combined with Ronaldo to present the ball on a plate for the former Lyon striker, but with an open goal staring him in the face the Frenchman somehow miscued his shot and sent it over the bar from close range.
Before the referee had time to blow the half-time whistle, Ronaldo was uncharacteristically off target again, guiding Ozil’s cross wide of the post.
The half-time interval offered little respite for the hosts as they soon found themselves under heavy attack at the start of the second period.
Inspired by their vociferous home support, APOEL Nicosia stood firm. Then with 63 minutes on the clock, Mourinho brought on Kaka and Marcelo and the tide turned.
With just over 15 minutes to play, Kaka whipped a teasing cross into the box from the left and Benzema flung his body at the ball to send it flying past Chiotis via his forehead.
Eight minutes later it was 2-0. Marcelo burst into the box, darting past Paolo Jorge before picking out his Brazilian team-mate arriving late in the box, who planted a right foot shot into the back of the net.
In the 90th minute Benzema all but ended the tie as a contest as he made amends for his glaring miss in the first half.
Presented with an almost identical chance, this time courtesy of Ozil, he made no mistake, sweeping the ball home.
The nine-times European champions head back to the Bernabeu with three away goals and one foot in the semi-final.