UCL round-up

Real breeze, Kalou snatches Blues win

March 27, 2012

Substitute Kaka sparkled and Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid finally broke down Cypriot underdogs APOEL, triumphing 3-0 in Nicosia.

Kaka celebrates Real Madrid's second goal
GettyImagesKaka: A transfer target for Milan

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The Brazil international was introduced in the 63rd minute and set up Benzema for a 74th-minute opener before tucking away fellow sub Marcelo's excellent cutback eight minutes later.

France striker Benzema's second gave the scoreline an emphatic look despite a mighty defensive effort by APOEL, whose giant-killing run has accounted for Lyon, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk but who were outclassed on Tuesday night.

APOEL lost key defender Marcelo Oliveira to injury inside 10 minutes after his standing leg twisted under him as he overcommitted in a tackle.

Chelsea also put themselves on course for the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 1-0 win at Benfica in the first leg of their last-eight clash.

Roberto Di Matteo made some surprising selections, leaving out Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, but he was vindicated as two of those in the spotlight, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou, combined for the vital away goal.

Raul Meireles came in for some serious abuse from the Benfica crowd and he came close to the ideal riposte when forcing a fine low save out of Artur.

Benfica had few clear-cut chances but on 67 minutes Gaitan picked out Jardel at the far post. However, he sent his header straight at Petr Cech and though Benfica were roused to suggest they would mount a charge in the final 20 minutes, they were left deflated by Kalou's goal.

Torres was rewarded for his all-action efforts by gathering the ball and escaping down the right. He looked up after driving into the box and clipped a cross into the path of Kalou who slotted home from four yards.

The response from Benfica was poor and Chelsea could arguably have grabbed a second, but Mata fluffed his lines after being sent in on goal.