Chelsea, Real Win Away to Open Champions League Quarterfinals
Chelsea and Real Madrid scored second-half goals to open their Champions League soccer quarterfinals with away wins.
Salomon Kalou scored in the 75th minute as Chelsea ended Benfica’s 10-match unbeaten home run in Europe last night with a 1-0 win in Portugal. Two goals from Karim Benzema and one from Kaka after the break gave Real Madrid a 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus.
“Nothing is over, there is still another 90 minutes to play,” Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo said on UEFA’s website. “It has been a while since they lost a home game and that just magnifies our performance.”
Chelsea and Real Madrid host the return matches in the two- game series on April 4. The other quarterfinals in Europe’s elite club competition begin tonight as defending champion Barcelona visits AC Milan and Marseille hosts Bayern Munich.
“You want to play every game but you have to respect the manager’s decision,” Kalou told Sky Sports. “He gave me the chance and I have to show it on the pitch, so I’m happy to get the goal.”
Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo volleyed wide after getting behind John Terry in the 20th minute and Chelsea’s Fernando Torres shot over from the edge of the area. Torres put another shot wide after weaving into the area and Raul Meireles forced Benfica goalkeeper Artur into a diving save just before halftime.
David Luiz blocked Cardozo’s shot on the goal line two minutes after the break and Kalou headed over from close range. Chelsea’s Juan Mata hit the post after running onto goalkeeper Petr Cech’s long kick over the Benfica defense and going around Artur. Cech then reacted quickly to block Jardel’s header from six yards out.
Chelsea, which is seeking to reach the final four for the sixth time in nine seasons, then took the lead as Torres fought off Jardel on the right, carried the ball into the area and passed toward the center for Kalou to slot past Artur.
Benfica almost scored in stoppage time as Nicolas Gaitan’s cross was deflected just wide of the post by Ashley Cole.
“They are a strong side, with a lot of experience in Europe,” Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said. “We dominated almost the whole game, and created more chances to score, but we were unfortunate.”
Three goals in the final 16 minutes gave record nine-time European champion Real Madrid the win over APOEL Nicosia, the first team from Cyprus to reach the last eight.
“It took us a long time to open the scoring but that had a lot to do with our opponents,” Real coach Jose Mourinho said on UEFA’s website. “Obviously they don’t have the outstanding individual talent that other teams in the Champions League have but from the point of view of organization and character, they were fantastic.”
APOEL, which didn’t have a single shot on or off target during the match, held Real scoreless until the 74th minute when Benzema dived to head in a cross from Kaka, who came off the bench in the second half.
Kaka doubled the lead eight minutes later when he converted a pass from fellow Brazilian Marcelo and Benzema scored off a cross from Mesut Ozil in the final minute to take his tally in this season’s Champions league to seven goals.
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