Mourinho Leads Real Madrid Out of Champions League Lull Into Quarterfinals

Coach Jose Mourinho said Real Madrid is a title contender again after ending a seven-year wait to get into soccer’s Champions League quarterfinals.

Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria scored as the record nine-time European champion beat Lyon 3-0 at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid yesterday.

Real, which last won the Champions League in 2002, won 4-1 over the two games. Mourinho is seeking to win the competition with a third club as coach after successes with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan last year.

“We got through and got through well, we didn’t suffer much,” Mourinho, 48, told reporters. “The titles will come: if not this year, next year.”

Madrid is now the second favorite with U.K. oddsmaker William Hill Plc to win the title, at 7-2. Archrival Barcelona is 5-4.

Real had 10 shots on target to Lyon’s three and avenged its exit to the French team in last year’s round of 16.

After exchanging passes with Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo twice fooled defenders with feints in the penalty box before making it 1-0 after 39 minutes.

Benzema fired through the legs of Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to make it 2-0 after 65 minutes. Benzema didn’t celebrate his goal in the 1-1 draw against his former club at Lyon’s Stade Gerland. Last night, he held his hands up to the skies.

Standing Ovation

Benzema also had a goal ruled offside, forced saves by Lloris and had a penalty appeal turned down. He got a standing ovation from Real fans and some Lyon supporters when he was substituted with six minutes left.

Di Maria chipped over Lloris after 75 minutes to round off a counterattack and make it 3-0. After that, Madrid fans began to chant Mourinho’s name.

“I love knock-out games, difficult opponents,” Mourinho said. “The players know the coach wants a challenge.”

Lyon had its best chance in the first half when Cesar Delgado’s shot was turned past the post by goalkeeper Iker Casillas after 21 minutes.

“We gave away the ball too easily, we were too timid,” Lyon coach Claude Puel told reporters. “They deserved to win.”

Mourinho said he wants to avoid playing next against his former clubs Chelsea and Inter because it would be like playing “brothers against brothers.”

Chelsea advanced after a 0-0 draw against Copenhagen yesterday, a day after Inter beat Bayern Munich 3-2 to progress. The quarterfinal and semifinal draws will be made tomorrow.

The Portuguese coach said he wants more backing from Real’s fans. The team’s “12th man” regularly goes quiet during games, Mourinho said as he likened the crowd to one of his players.

“He played well but not enough, the type of player that plays a bit then hides,” Mourinho said. “I prefer a player that plays 90 minutes. But if he improves in the quarterfinals we’re on the right track.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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