3/27/2012 2:09:53 PM
Not only was it was Chelsea's first away win of the Champions League campaign,
but it also leaves the Blues 90 minutes away from their first semifinals
appearance in the prestigious competition since the 2008-09 season.
Benfica had a great chance to get in front early in the second half when a
rifling shot in the box was cleared off the goal line by David Luiz. The
Portuguese side protested that Luiz used his arm to deny a goal, but further
replay showed that the former Benfica defender used his chest.
Chelsea then went on the offensive and almost got off the mark. Juan Mata
got free on a breakaway and went around Benfica goalkeeper Artur, but the
Spaniard pushed the ball too far with a heavy touch and was only able to hit
the outside of the post with a shot from a very tough angle.
The Blues eventually were rewarded for their hard work in the 75th minute as
Kalou bagged his second goal of the Champions League season.
Fernando Torres found space on the right side of the penalty area and played a
tricky ball in front of goal. Kalou was on the spot to direct a one-time
effort past Artur for Chelsea's vital away goal.
Chelsea sustained some late pressure from the home side to take a one-goal
aggregate lead back to West London.
The Eagles last reached the semifinals of a European Cup in the 1989-90 season
when they finished runners-up to AC Milan. Benfica will need to win by more
than one goal, or claim a one-goal win by scoring two or more goals, in order
to become the first Portuguese team to advance to the semifinals since FC
Porto won the competition in 2003-04.
The second leg will take place at Stamford Bridge on April 4.
Real Madrid 3, APOEL 0
Nicosa, Cyprus - Real Madrid looks a virtual lock to make the semifinals of
the Champions League for the second straight year after Jose Mourinho's men
eased past APOEL with a 3-0 win at the GSP Stadium on Tuesday.
It took the visitors over 73 minutes to break through, but they hit for three
goals in the final 14 minutes as Karim Benzema bagged a brace and Kaka added
another to give Real a comfortable cushion heading back to the Bernabeu for
the return leg.
Benzema had a golden opportunity to put the visitors in front in the 33rd
minute as the Frenchman drifted unmarked to the back post to latch on to a
square ball played in front of goal, but he made a hash of the effort and
failed to convert a shot from inside the six-yard box.
Real Madrid took the lead in the 74th minute and it was Benzema who provided
the telling strike as he made amends for his earlier miss. His glancing header
from a Kaka cross found its way to the back of the net as the visitors finally
found a way to beat APOEL 'keeper Dionisis Chiotis.
Kaka then turned scorer in 82nd minute following a great give-and-go on the
left flank. Marcelo got on the end of the passage and made his way to the
end line, pulling the ball back for his fellow Brazilian to comfortably stuff
his shot into the net.
Benzema completed his brace and capped the scoring in the 90th minute when he
met a low cross from Mesut Ozil at the back post and slotted a one-time shot
The result hands APOEL a slight reality check as the club toils in uncharted
territory. The Cyprus side narrowly advanced after edging Lyon on penalties in
the Round of 16.
The two sides will square off for the second leg on April 4 in Spain.