Chelsea sink Benfica at the Bridge | sports | Hindustan Times
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Chelsea sink Benfica at the Bridge

sports Updated: Apr 06, 2012 02:40 IST
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s double ensured Real Madrid easily ended APOEL Nicosia’s extraordinary Champions League run Wednesday and set up a semifinal with Bayern Munich, while Chelsea will next face holder Barcelona after ousting Benfica.

Already 3-0 up from the first leg, nine-time champion Madrid romped to a 5-2 victory over the first Cypriot team to even reach the knockout stages of the Europe’s illustrious competition.

Ronaldo scored in each half to raise his goal tally for the season to 49, while Kaka, Jose Callejon and Angel di Maria also netted for as Jose Mourinho’s Madrid reached a second successive semifinal. Ronaldo double as Real ease into semi-finals

Blues avoid hiccups
It was a nervier night in London for Chelsea despite going 2-0 up on aggregate in the 21st minute when Frank Lampard netted the second-leg opener from the penalty spot.

Despite Maxi Pereira being sent off in the 40th, Javi Garcia headed Benfica back into the game in the 85th as the Portuguese side threatened a late comeback. But Raul Meireles netted a stoppage-time goal to secure Chelsea’s 3-1 aggregate victory and a chance to avenge the 2009 semifinal loss to Barcelona.

“Everyone has unfinished business with them,” Lampard said.

“They are the greatest team in the world. We have to perform at our best to beat them and we believe we can do that.”

Chelsea, chasing a first Champions League title, is back in the semis for the first time in three years.

The Blues were in control after the first leg and the quarterfinal turned further in their favour after Garcia’s challenge on Ashley Cole in the penalty area led to Lampard scoring.

Even though Pereira was sent off following a lunge on John Obi Mikel, Benfica played well with 10 men. Chelsea will be thankful that the visitors matched their lack of ruthlessness up front until Garcia’s header finally breached Petr Cech’s goal.

Had Nelson Oliveira found the target soon after, Benfica would surely have headed into the last four but Chelsea clung on.