Chelsea, Real Madrid clinch Champions League semi-final places
By Barry Whelan Apr 4, 2012, 21:06 GMT
Berlin - Chelsea defeated 10-man Benfica 2-1 and Real Madrid downed APOEL Nicosia 5-2 Wednesday to join Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Frank Lampard scored from the penalty spot in the 21st minute for Chelsea, Javi Garcia levelled for Benfica with five minutes remaining but Raul Meireles belted in a stoppage-time winner to give the Premier League side a 3-1 aggregate win.
The win sets up a semi-final encounter with European champions Barcelona who eliminated AC Milan on Tuesday. Chelsea are in their sixth semi-final in nine years and will have the chance to avenge defeat to Barcelona at the same stage three years ago.
'Everyone's got unfinished business with them (Barcelona),' Lampard said.
'They're the greatest team in the world. They have been and still are. That game (from three years ago) is still in our minds but this is a different year and we have to try to beat them.
'They'll be favourites but we've got belief. We know we'll have to perform to our best to beat them but we can believe we can do it.'
Real meanwhile eased into the last four and a tie with Bayern Munich, with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging two goals in a 5-2 victory and an 8-2 aggregate over APOEL.
Following the 3-0 win in Cyprus last week, Jose Mourinho's side again dominated with Ronaldo scoring in the 26th and 75th minutes, Kaka in the 37th, Jose Callejon in the 80th and Jose Di Maria in the 84th.
Gustavo Manduca netted in the 67th for the visitors who scored a second eight minutes from time with an Esteban Solari penalty after a foul by Hamit Altintop on Adorno.
At Stamford Bridge, Benfica began brightly but a foul in the box by Javi Garcia on Ashley Cole allowed Lampard to find the right-hand corner from the spot with a shot under the dive of Artur Moraes.
Benfica's chances dwindled further when defender Maxi Pereira, who had been booked for dissent after the penalty award, went in with a studs-high challenge on John Obi Mikel to earn a second booking and dismissal five minutes before the break.
Benfica, hoping to reach their first semi-final in the competition since 1990, continued to show signs of life, with Petr Cech in goal saving well from Oscar Cardozo after the break.
But Chelsea should have gone further ahead when Salomon Kalou shot past Artur in goal and Ramires only had to touch the ball over the line but could not connect at point-blank range.
Kalou was foiled by Artur, Juan Mata flashed a shot across goal and just wide of the post and Kalou again went inches wide, but it was Benfica who scored when Javi Garcia rose to head in a Pablo Aimar corner with five minutes remaining.
Benfica threw men forward in search of the winner but were caught on the break following a free-kick when Chelsea substitute Meireles ran from inside his own half to smash the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo said: 'We knew before the game that we were going to face a difficult game and it proved that.
'Benfica are a good side and they've showed it many times before but we're pleased and we're through. The second goal was missing, they still had a chance and they knew that. We missed a lot of chances to kill the game.'
At Madrid's Bernabeu stadium, Real laid siege to APOEL, with Ronaldo opening the scoring from close range at the far post from a Marcelo cross from the left, and Kaka curling in a shot from outside the left-hand corner of the penalty area for the second.
APOEL found the net when Ailton Almeida fed fellow Brazilian Manduca who finished with his left foot but Ronaldo with a direct free-kick and Callejon responded to make it 4-1.
APOEL's second, coolly side-footed home from the spot by Solari in the 82nd minute, was followed two minutes later by Real's fifth when Di Maria cleverly chipped the ball over keeper Urko Pardo from the edge of the area.
Real now come up against Bundesliga side Bayer Munich who defeated Olympique Marseille 2-0 Tuesday for a 4-0 aggregate.
'Mission accomplished,' Ronaldo said. 'We're in the semi-finals, where we expect the Bayern tie to be very difficult. I am very happy for me and my mates but nothing is certain because Bayern can win the Champions League.'
The semi-finals are being played over two legs on April 17/18 and April 24/25.
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