Tuesday's Uefa Champions League Review 27/3
It was a good evening for the away teams in the Uefa Champions League as Real Madrid and Chelsea boosted their chances of reaching the semifinals.
APOEL Nicosia 0 def by Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 74’, 90’, Kaka 82’)
The history-making Cypriot outfit held on for 70-odd minutes against the Spanish leaders, however the visitors eventually got the result they desired, all but placing a foot in the semifinals of the competition. Karim Benzema had missed a close-range sitter in the first half, but made up for that error finishing off substitute Kaka’s goodwork for the breakthrough on 74 minutes. Kaka swept home Marcelo cutback eight minutes later and the Frenchman rounded out the scoring in the stoppage time to seal a good night for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Real boss Mourinho said: “It took us a long time to open the scoring but that had a lot to do with our opponents, they played very well and to their strengths. Obviously they don’t have the outstanding individual talent that other teams in the Champions League have but in terms of organisation and character they are fantastic.”
He added: “When Marcelo and Kaká came on, our opponents were running out of energy [and the substitutions] proved decisive. We had a lot of respect for our opponents tonight, the same respect we will show them at the Santiago Bernabéu; they are the most important team in [this season’s] Champions League.”
APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic said: “The result was fair. We tried to contain them but they upped their tempo towards the end and we couldn’t hold on. It was very gratifying to play against a team like Real Madrid. We all saw first hand what a quality side they are.”
He added: “This year has been surreal. Our aim was first and foremost to enter the group stage. To get into the knockout phase ahead of Zenit, Porto and Shakhtar was a fantastic accomplishment, as was our being able to eliminate Lyon. Perhaps the fact that we got the chance to play Madrid was another gift. It was an honour to play against them.”
Benfica 0 def by Chelsea 1 (Kalou 75’)
The Londoners claimed a priceless advantage heading into the return leg at Stamford Bridge with Fernando Torres setting up Salomon Kalou for a 75th-minute winner. Earlier, Petr Cech had to make a series of saves to keep Benfica at bay while David Luiz blocked Oscar Cardozo’s goalbound shot on the line. Juan Mata had a chance for Chelsea, when he rounded the keeper but his angled effort hit the post, before Torres did well down the right and set up Kalou for a vital away goal and winner.
Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo said: “It’s terrific, you couldn’t have hoped for a better result. To keep a clean sheet is great – defensively we looked very good today”. Before the game we wanted to score and we went close on a number of occasions.”
He added: “You know how football is – nothing is over, there is still another 90 minutes to play. It has been a while since they lost a home game and that just magnifies our performance.”
Benfica boss Jorge Jesus said: “Chelsea are a strong side with a lot of experience in European competition. We dominated for almost the entire game and created more scoring opportunities but ultimately luck was not on our side today. We were mature, played well and did not let Chelsea create a lot. I don’t think we deserved to lose tonight, but there is still a game to play and we feel we have the quality to score in London.”
Related news & articles
Thursday April 5
Chelsea had a scare but progressed to face Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals while it’ll be Real Madrid to take on Bayern Munich elsewhere. More
Monday February 21
There’s more UEFA Champions League football tonight as the Round of 16 first-leg matches continue with two of the trophy favourites Real Madrid and Chelsea in action this evening. More
Wednesday September 28
Four matches were played in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday, with last season’s beaten finalists Manchester United stumbling, while Real Madrid firmed up with a fine performance. More
Wednesday March 7
Arsenal fell narrowly short as they attempted to complete a stunning comeback against Italian champions AC Milan, while Benfica got the job done in Portugal. More