Ronaldo leads the way as Real brush aside Cypriots
Real Madrid 5 Apoel Nicosia 2 (Real win 8-2 on aggregate)
Wednesday 04 April 2012
Real Madrid coasted past Apoel Nicosia 5-2 on the night to set-up a Champions League semi-final clash with Bayern Munich.
Already leading 3-0 from the first-leg the hosts started brightly but had to wait until the 25th minute to open the scoring as Cristiano Ronaldo tapped home Marcelo's cross at the back post.
Kaka doubled Real's lead with a stunning effort from outside the area nine minutes before half-time, but the goal of the night was arguably scored by Gustavo Manduca as he pulled one back for the visitors after a flowing team move midway through the second-half.
Ronaldo soon restored the hosts' two-goal advantage and substitutes Jose Maria Callejon and Angel Di Maria added further goals either side of Esteban Solari's 82nd-minute penalty for the visitors.
Jose Mourinho took the chance to rest some of his established stars as Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema started on the bench, but the Portuguese coach still named a strong side that had far too much for their Cypriot opponents from the off.
Apoel manager Ivan Jovanovic had claimed before the game that his side "never play with fear" but they certainly appeared nervous early on as two defensive errors nearly handed Madrid the opener within the first four minutes.
Firstly, Gonzalo Higuain could only head William Boaventura's misguided clearance wide before Savvas Poursaitides presented Ronaldo with a great chance but the Portuguese fired straight at Urko Pardo.
Ronaldo did eventually get his 48th goal of the season when he bundled the ball home after Higuain had failed to get a telling touch on Marcelo's cross.
Hamit Altintop fluffed his lines after being played in by Higuain and Kaka saw another effort fly just over - but the Brazilian had been the pick of those on show in the first 45 and he deservedly scored the second goal with a brilliant curling effort which bent just inside Pardo's left-hand post.
The former Milan playmaker nearly replicated that effort from Ronaldo's clever pass five minutes before the break but this time saw the ball clip the outside of the post.
To Apoel's credit they took advantage of the hosts sloppiness at the beginning of the second half and gave their travelling hordes of fans a moment to treasure with 23 minutes remaining as a wonderful team move ended with Ailton slipping the ball through to Manduca, who slotted calmly past Iker Casillas to record his fourth Champions League goal of the season.
Constantinos Charalambides was denied a spectacular equaliser moments later as Casillas produced a fingertip save to divert his drive behind for a corner but Ronaldo soon put an end to any hopes of a heroic comeback as having gone all season without scoring from a free-kick he made it two in two games with a stunning effort from wide on the left.
Callejon then added a fourth as he cut in from the left to finish low beyond Pardo, but the Cypriots responded again and got their second goal when Solari netted from the spot after Aldo Adorno had been upended by Altintop.
However, Di Maria had the final say when he rounded off a fine night for the nine-times winners as he lofted a wonderful chip over Pardo.
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