APOEL Nicosia 0-6 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema score twice in thrashing
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 21/11/17 11:19pm
Real Madrid booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League for the 15th season in a row as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both scored twice in a comfortable 6-0 thrashing of APOEL Nicosia.
Luka Modric gave Zinedine Zidane's side the lead in Cyprus with a controlled volley (23) before Toni Kroos released Benzema to double the visitors' lead (39).
Nacho (41) and Benzema (45) both tapped in from close range before the interval as Real continued to dominate at the GSP Stadium.
The only surprise in the opening 45 minutes was that Ronaldo hadn't scored any of the four goals, but he soon rectified that with two quick strikes at the start of the second half (49 and 54) to seal a resounding win.
APOEL: Perez (6), Lago (6), Rueda (5), Vincius (6), Zahid (6), Sallai (6), Morais (6), Vouros (5), Aloneftis (5), Carlao (5), Pote (5)
Subs: Ebecilio (5), Efrem (6), Farias (5)
Real Madrid: Casilla (6), Carvajal (7), Varane (7), Nacho (7), Marcelo (7), Modric (7), Kroos (8), Lucas Vazquez (7), Asensio (7), Benzema (8), Ronaldo (8)
Subs: Theo (6), Mayoral (6), Ceballos (6)
Man of the match: Toni Kroos
Madrid have to settle for second place in Group H, however, after leaders Tottenham came from behind to beat Borussia Dotmund 2-1 in Germany, meaning the reigning champions will be an unseeded team in the first knockout round.
It was APOEL who began brightly as captain Nuno Morais tested Kiko Casilla from distance but the stand-in 'keeper made a comfortable save.
Modric then took full advantage of a poor clearance from Vinicius to give Real the lead with a sublime volley from the edge of the box, with Nauzet Perez slow to get down to his left.
Real Madrid named Marcelo as captain in the absence of the injured Sergio Ramos, who was replaced by Nacho in the starting line-up. Marco Asensio came in for Casemiro in the only other change from the side which drew 0-0 with Atletico last weekend.
Ronaldo then combined with Toni Kroos for the German to release Benzema, who opened his body and fired a right-footed shot into the bottom corner for his first Champions League goal since the knockout win over Napoli in February.
Any hopes APOEL had of finding a route back into the contest were extinguished just two minutes later as Kroos' corner was flicked on by Raphael Varane into the path of Nacho who made no mistake from close range.
There was still time before the interval for Real to extend their lead as Ronaldo unselfishly teed up Benzema for his second of the night following a swift counter-attack as Real continued to show no mercy to their Cypriot counterparts following a frustrating run of results.
Madrid refused to take their foot off the gas upon the restart as Marcelo crossed for Ronaldo to head in his customary goal, and he made it 18 Champions League goals in the calendar year just five minutes later.
Benzema closed down a poor back-pass to Perez with the clearance ricocheting off the striker into the path of Ronaldo, and he made no mistake in hooking the ball into the empty net for his seventh goal in five matches in this season's competition.
Madrid had further chances to inflict more damage as Marco Asensio and Borja Mayoral both came off the bench to see efforts saved, before Dani Carvajal cynically picked up a booking late on for time-wasting which means he misses the final group game against Borussia Dortmund.
Zinedine Zidane: "We are on the right track and doing things well. We continue to grow in the game because it is never easy to get six goals away from home. We can say that it has been a game against a weak opponent, but it is not true. We played a serious game, we scored early and kept a clean sheet.
"We will play two games and try to pass the round again. The rivals think that it will be difficult to face Real Madrid. We can not change this and any opponent that touches us will be good. We're going to play against a team that has finished first and that means they've qualified phenomenally."
Man of the match - Toni Kroos
Madrid scored five goals in a 15-minute flurry either side of half-time and Kroos played a pivotal role in helping the 12-time European champions race away with the three points.
The Germany midfielder was instrumental with his assists once more as he laid the ball on a plate for Karim Benzema to double the lead while his corner led to Nacho putting the game to bed moments later.
Not satisfied with having created two goals, Kroos then played a sublime pass into the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo for the Portuguese to unselfishly set up Benzema for a fourth before the interval. Kroos was replaced by Dani Ceballos on the hour-mark and with it Madrid's creativity significantly waned, but the damage was done.
- Luka Modric scored his first goal for Real Madrid in 22 Champions League appearances; his first since netting against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2015.
- Karim Benzema netted his ninth Champions League brace; only Raul (13), Lionel Messi (20) and Cristiano Ronaldo (25) have 2+ goals in a game on more occasions in the competition.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 18 Champions League goals in 2017; the record for a single player in a calendar year in the Champions League.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals from 37 shots in the Champions League so far this season (21.6%); in comparison he has scored just one goal from 55 shots in La Liga (1.8%).
APOEL return to domestic action on Saturday by hosting Olympiakos Nicosia while Real Madrid will look to close the 10-point gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona at home to Malaga on the same day.
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