Real Madrid beats Lyon, enters Champions League quarter-finals
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring against Olympique Lyon during their second leg round of 16 Champions League soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid March 16, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Real Madrid reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 by eliminating Lyon with an accomplished attacking display (3-0) on the early morning of March 17.
Joe Mourinho's side took the lead eight minutes from the interval when Brazil international Marcelo exchanged passes with Cristiano Ronaldo before scoring.
Karim Benzema doubled the home side's advantage, finishing with aplomb from Marcelo's upfield punt.
Angel Di Maria completed the win on 76 minutes following a Mesut Ozil flick.
Real Madrid's Marcelo (R) and Ricardo Carvalho acknowledge supporters as they wear shirts giving courage to Barcelona's player Adibal, who is to undergo surgery, at the end of their second leg round of 16 Champions League soccer match against Olympique Lyon at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid March 16, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
It was a case of seventh time lucky for Real who, having previously failed to successfully negotiate a Champions League knock-out tie on six consecutive occasions, grew in confidence following Marcelo's opener.
Perhaps surprisingly, the weight of history was against the nine-time champions, who had failed to beat Lyon in each of their seven previous meetings.
But there is no better man to lift such a hoodoo than Mourinho, who has not presided over a home defeat for any of the clubs he has managed since 2002, and rarely looked like doing so against a Lyon side whose sloppy defending did little to advance their cause.
Marcelo's crucial opening goal at the Bernabeu Stadium was stamped with Brazilian class, the defender cutting in from the left, exchanging passes with Ronaldo, and then showing excellent balance and composure to slot the ball across Hugo Lloris in the Lyon goal.
Yet the ease with which the left-back weaved past his compatriot Cris was a sign of things to come.
Mourinho's pre-match talk of playing defensively to claim the goalless draw that would have sufficed after last month's 1-1 draw at the Stade de Gerland was revealed as kidology almost from the first whistle.
Real were direct and aggressive from the outset, and within minutes Marcelo had tested Lloris with a low effort.
Ronaldo, returning from a two-match absence with a thigh injury, caused right-back Anthony Reveillere all manner of problems, and sent in a venomous curled effort that Lloris tipped over in athletic style.
Similarly ominous for Claude Puel's side was the performance of Real's first-leg scorer Benzema who, full of confidence after scoring twice in each of his three previous games, buzzed waspishly around the visitors' defence.
Yet Real failed to make their initial dominance count and, as the half wore on, Lyon had opportunities to make an impression on the game.
The game was 21 minutes old before Iker Casillas was called into action, the Real keeper getting down well to turn Cesar Delgado's low shot round the post.
Argentina international Lisandro, also in a rich vein of form after scoring four times in his last two games, set up Cris, who scuffed his shot horribly.
Real began the second half with the same attacking intent they had shown in the first, but this time it was allied to belief.
The combination was too much for Lyon, who fell further behind when Marcelo, capitalising on a misplaced pass from Reveillere, punted the ball forward for Benzema.
Lloris raced from his line, but was powerless to deny his former team-mate from finding the mark for a fourth successive game.
That broke Lyon's resolve, and although Bafetimbi Gomis tested Casillas with a rasping effort soon afterwards, Di Maria's goal made the outcome a formality.
The Argentina international gathered a flick from Ozil before calmly clipping the ball over Lloris.
Not for the first time, Real - and Mourinho - will be in the hat for Friday's quarter-final draw.
By People’s Daily Online/Agencies
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