Salomon Kalou of Chelsea is closed down by Bruno Cesar of Benfica during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Benfica and Chelsea at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea, Real Madrid Go Through

The Champions League semifinals are set. Chelsea will face Barcelona, while Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich.

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Real Madrid Vs. APOEL Nicosia, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score 5-2 Madrid In UCL Shocker

Real Madrid beat APOEL Nicosia to advance to the semifinals of the Champions League, where the La Liga leaders will take on Bayern Munich. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Jose Mourinho fielded a weakened team but they ran riot anyway, with Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring in the 26th minute before Kaka (Madrid's one) made it 2-0 with a lovely curling effort from distance that brought a cute little shrug to the Portuguese manager's shoulders.

Then, in the second half, APOEL managed a goal! It was a very nice goal too, with Gustavo Manduca finishing off a jaw-dropping reverse ball from Ailton, and the visitors celebrated like they'd just won the whole thing. They'd get another via penalty, but that was only after Madrid had notched two more, and following Esteban Solari's spot kick Angel di Maria would finish things off with six minutes to go, making the final score 5-2 to Madrid (8-2 on aggregate). APOEL never had a chance, but at least they had fun.


Chelsea Vs. Benfica, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Blues Prevail 3-1 On Aggregate

Benfica made things extremely interesting in the dying minutes, against all odds, but Chelsea will be going through to the UEFA Champions League semifinals, where they will face FC Barcelona. Down 2-0 on aggregate with 10 men, Benfica scored a late goal to create a nervy finish, but Raul Meireles scored a stoppage time clincher to give his team a 3-1 aggregate win.

The opener came on a penalty kick, conceded by a makeshift central defender. With all four of their central defenders out, Javi Garcia had to move back from midfield and conceded a penalty in the 20th minute, pushing down Ashley Cole. Frank Lampard stepped up and converted, after which Maxi Pereira was booked for dissent.

That became relevant in the 41st minute when Pereira committed a studs-up tackle on John Obi Mikel and was sent off. Down 2-0 on aggregate at halftime of the second leg and down to 10 men, Benfica should have been completely finished. Benfica were solid in the second half, however, and eventually made a game of it.

Chelsea had plenty of chances to finish the game off and prevent it from ever getting interesting. Ramires was the worst offender of failing to finish said chances. He had one of the best misses of the internet era.


In the 85th minute, Chelsea fell asleep on a corner kick. Garcia, who conceded the earlier goal, somehow lost the entire Chelsea team and rose up for a completely uncontested header, which he directed towards the goal. Petr Cech, just as asleep as his teammates, didn't make a great effort to stop the ball from going into the back of the net.

For the next six minutes, Benfica would knock the ball around the Chelsea box, and a winner looked very possible. Nelson Olivera had the best chance at the winner for Benfica in the 88th minute, but made a mess of it. While outside the Chelsea penalty area, he had good opportunities to play an early shot or hit a ball into the box for a teammate, but he took neither option. Instead, he stalled on the ball and eventually took a poor shot, squandering a great chance.

With only 10 men, all of them desperately pushing forward, Benfica were vulnerable on the counter. They eventually got torched on the counter. This kind of thing usually results in a tap-in, but Raul Meireles decided to clinch the win with some extra oomph.

And now Chelsea move on to face Barcelona, which should be all kinds of fun. Last time the two teams met, Didier Drogba got himself suspended for (correctly) stating that the officiating was a "f--king disgrace" on live television.

You can find all of our live coverage of the game in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Real Madrid Vs. APOEL Nicosia, 2012 Champions League: Lineups

Real Madrid are, unsurprisingly, resting players in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against APOEL Nicosia. Having won the first 3-0 in Cyprus, the La Liga giants have basically zero chance of going out, so this is a good opportunity to get the likes of Raphael Varane and Nuri Sahin some playing time. Can APOEL make Jose Mourinho regret treating this tie as over? Of course they can't. Don't be so silly.

Real Madrid starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos; Nuri Sahin, Esteban Granero; Cristian Ronaldo, Kaka, Hamit Altintop; Gonzalo Higuain.

Substitutes from: Antonio Adan, Raul Albiol, Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Jose Callejon, Angel di Maria, Karim Benzema.

APOEL Nicosia starting lineup (4-4-1-1): Urko Pardo; William Boaventura, Paulo Jorge, Kaka, Savvas Poursaitides; Gustavo Manduca, Constantinos Charalambides, Nuno Morais Helio Pinto; Marcinho; Ailton.

Substitutes from: Dionosis Chiotis, Marios Elia, Helder Sousa, Aldo Adorno, Nektarios Alexandrou, Esteban Solari.

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