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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Champions League | Real Madrid smash CSKA to enter quarters

Madrid: Real Madrid have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League after making short work of CSKA Moscow with a 4-1 win in their second-leg clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With the tie still on a knife edge after a 1-1 draw from the first encounter in Moscow, a Cristiano Ronaldo brace alongside goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema proved enough for Jose Mourinho's men to comfortably see off the threat of the visitors on their way into the last eight.

Zoran Tosic's brilliant effort with 13 minutes remaining was nothing but bitter consolation, as the Russian outfit crashed out of the competition by a 5-2 aggregate scoreline.

CSKA began with promise, and fired an early warning shot Madrid's way after seven minutes, with Seydou Doumbia striking just over when he really should have buried an incisive through ball by Alan Dzagoev.

Mourinho's men immediately stormed down the pitch in response, Ronaldo cutting in from the left to force Sergey Chepchugov into a smart stop at his near post.

The visitors' encouraging start continued with just under a quarter of an hour gone, as Ahmed Musa was offered the freedom of the Bernabeu to gallop down the right flank and send a ball across the face of goal that flashed inched ahead of the waiting Doumbia.

Madrid would not be second best for long, however, and slowly began to exert their influence over proceedings with sustained pressure in the CSKA half. The opener duly arrived in the 26th minute - Sami Khedira picked out Kaka, who hooked the ball back into six yard area for Higuain to poke home.

The home side played out the half with confidence, but were still wary of the visitors’ threat on the counter attack after Musa again broke free down the right to test Iker Casillas with a stinging drive from range 10 minutes before the break.

Madrid came storming out of the interval, Kaka sending a 20-yard effort inches wide before Ronaldo was put though on goal, only for Chepchugov to again thwart him with a strong block at the near post.

Ronaldo was not to be denied though, and scored the home side's second in the 55th minute after a costly gaffe by Chepchugov. The CSKA keeper appeared to have the Portuguese's strike from 30 yards out covered, but fumbled at the last second as the ball slipped in under his arm.

The visitors lost all impetus after the second, and found themselves further behind in the 70th minute. Benzema, on only seconds earlier as a substitute, was picked out in the area and saw his initial effort saved, before toe-poking the rebound into the far corner.

The tie seemed done and dusted, but CSKA managed to pull a goal back out of nothing with 13 minutes remaining. Tosic strode forward on the break, cut in from the left and blasted in an unstoppable shot off the crossbar from 20 yards out.

Substitute Tomas Necid nearly made things interesting in the 2nd minute after making space at the top of the box, but his vicious shot was punched clear by Casillas.

Ronaldo added the icing on the cake at the death, stroking come Benzema's pass on the break from a few yards out as Madrid ran out comfortable winners.

Madrid now take their place in the last eight and await their next challenge, with the draw for the quarter-final set to take place in two days' time on March 16.


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