It took awhile but Chelsea and Real Madrid both scored late to take leads back home.
Chelsea won away in Europe for the first time in 13 months when Salomon Kalou scored late in the second half to give the Blues a 1-0 win against Benfica. The home side had the majority of possession and registered 25 shots but didn't create many real chances. Ex-Benfica defender David Luiz and John Terry anchored a Chelsea back line which was surprisingly well organized.
Real Madrid scored three in the final 16 minutes to effectively end the Cinderella run of APOEL. Karim Benzema bagged a brace and Kaka got on the scoresheet in what was a dominating performance by the Spanish giants. Madrid had 28 shots to APOEL's zero and should have no problem closing the game out at the Bernabeu.
Here is a look back at both games from today's Champions League.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo took a risk by leaving Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba on the bench but his selection was vindicated as Chelsea never looked under siege against Benfica. The first half was a chess match of possession with neither team creating many chances of note. Oscar Cadorzo's hard shot skimmed just wide of the post while Raul Merieles, who was jeered for most of the game, forced a fine save from Artur Moraes.
Mata should have put Chelsea ahead 15 minutes after the restart when he rounded the goalkeeper but his shot from a narrow angle came back off the post. Chelsea took a deserved lead in the 75th minute when Torres found a sliding Kalou and the Ivorian tapped the ball into the net. Mata should have doubled the advantage but his chip shot flew over the bar and Chelsea successfully saw the game out.
Real Madrid were predictably dominant in the opening stages of their game with APOEL. Dionisis Chiotis was equal to Mesut Ozil's shot in the 11th minute. Karim Benzema should have put Real ahead on the half-hour mark but somehow scooped his shot from inside the six-yard box over the crossbar. Real Madrid continued to press forward until halftime but could not break down a stodgy APOEL defense.
It was much the same story in the second half as APOEL gave no indication of wanting to attack. The deadlock was finally broken 16 minutes from time when Benzema made up for his atrocious miss by heading home Kaka's cross. The advantage was doubled seven minutes later when Marcelo found Cristiano Ronaldo inside the box. The Portuguese international stayed on his feet despite being fouled and found Kaka, who slid his shot home from around 10 yards out. The third goal came in stoppage time when Benzema finished from close range yet again.
What do you think of today's games? Can Chelsea hold on at Stamford Bridge or will Benfica come back? Is there any hope at all for APOEL? Are Real Madrid favorites to win the entire competition?
Share your thoughts below.
I would really like to see Bayern play at home for the finale. That being said, Madrid is playing really well.
‘Madrid had 28 shots to APOEL’s zero’
It’s sad the competition was so poor. Monty Python’s one legged side might have taken a shot or two.