Four-star Real progress past CSKA
Real Madrid secured their passage through to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
Seydou Doumbia missed a glorious chance to give the visitors the lead inside ten minutes as he fired over when clean through, but Real slowly started to take control of the game and deservedly took the lead as Gonzalo Higuain slotted home from Kaka's pull-back.
A howler from Sergei Chepchugov allowed the hosts to double their advantage as he spilled Cristiano Ronaldo's long-range shot into his own net ten minutes after half-time and Karim Benzema slotted home the third at the second attempt with 20 minutes remaining. Zoran Tosic got a consolation for CSKA with a wonderful strike five minutes later, but Ronaldo sealed the victory with a tap-in after an unselfish pass from Benzema in stoppage time.
"It was a good game, we've all played well and we have qualified. We knew what we had to do. We had to win," said Benzema.
Meanwhile, Real coach Mourinho was happy with his team, but underlined how difficult the match had been until Ronaldo scored their second goal of the evening. "We suffered more than we should have until the second goal and the game was demanding until the end but all Champions League games are. We gave a mature and balanced performance and now we'll take on whoever the draw pairs us with on Friday."
Jose Mourinho had opted against recalling Benzema to the starting 11 as he named the same side that had defeated Real Betis 3-2 in La Liga at the weekend. However, it was the visitors who enjoyed the brighter start and should have been rewarded with the opening goal as Doumbia was played through by Alan Dzagoev but the Ivorian blazed over with just Iker Casillas to beat.
It was a good game, we've all played well and we have qualified.
Ronaldo then had Real's first effort on goal easily saved by Chepchugov before CSKA passed up another good opportunity to take the lead as Ahmed Musa escaped the attentions of Marcelo, but Pepe showed great strength to ensure Doumbia couldn't get on the end of his cross.
Real, though, began to pin back the visitors with wave after wave of attack and the opening goal arrived on 26 minutes when Sami Khedira's chipped ball over the CSKA defence found Kaka and his cut-back was rolled into the empty net by Higuain.
The second half started as the first ended with Real on the front foot and Chepchugov had to be quick off his line to smother Ronaldo's effort after a wonderful through ball from Kaka. The only negative of the evening for the home side was to come moments later, however, as Xabi Alonso saw a yellow card that will keep him out of the first leg of the quarter-final.
Ronaldo then made it two on 55 minutes with a long-range effort that Chepchugov should have handled comfortably but instead only succeeded in fumbling into his own net. The Russians nearly found a way back into the tie just after the hour as Dzagoev had a goal ruled out for offside on substitute Sekou Oliseh, who had provided the cross. A minute later Doumbia passed up another clear chance as he rounded Casillas but his floated effort towards goal drifted wide.
Instead, though, it was Benzema who sealed the tie with 20 minutes remaining with only his second touch after replacing Higuain as he raced onto Mesut Ozil's pass and despite Chepchugov making a brave stop from his first effort, the rebound fell kindly for the Frenchman to slot home his fifth goal in Europe this season.
CSKA to their credit did not give in and got the goal their efforts deserved when Tosic turned inside Pepe and rocketed a shot in off the underside of the bar. However, Ronaldo was to have the final say as Pepe fed Benzema inside the area and he squared for the former Manchester United man to score his second of the evening.