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Real Madrid confirm semi-final spot

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By David Redshaw

Thursday 05 April 2012

Real Madrid confirmed their place in the Champions League semi-finals after predictably easing past Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia 5-2 at the Bernabéu.

With a 3-0 first-leg lead José Mourinho’s team were in second gear for much of the 90 minutes but still proved far too good for the visitors, although it was 25 minutes before they were able to open the scoring when Cristiano Ronaldo bundled home at the far post after Marcelo’s left-wing cross had eluded everybody. Kaká doubled the advantage 10 minutes later with a superb strike, curling home right-footed from outside the box, before APOEL finally got on the scoresheet on 66 minutes when Gustavo Manduca swept home after a flowing move.

Ronaldo restored the two-goal cushion 15 minutes from time before goals from José Callejón and Ángel Di María, either side of an Esteban Solari penalty for APOEL, wrapped things up for an 8-2 aggregate victory to set up a last four clash with Bayern Munich, conquerors of Marseille.

Mourinho said afterwards that his players had struggled to motivate themselves for the match, which was all but over after the first game in Cyprus, and also appeared to write off his old club Chelsea’s chances of reaching the final in Munich as they have to face Barcelona.

“Barcelona are not just the favourites, they are super-favourites,” said the Portuguese. “Let me be honest, I don't think the final will be between Real Madrid and Chelsea. It could be Bayern or Barcelona, I just don't think it will be Real Madrid against Chelsea and we know why.'”

“Bayern is a very powerful opponent,” continued Mourinho. “It is a team I know well as it is almost the same side that I played when coach of Inter Milan in the Champions League final two years ago, and they have great individual players.”

APOEL Coach Ivan Jovanovic was pleased with his players despite conceding five goals on the night and praised the 3,500 supporters who had made the trip.

“The better team obviously advanced tonight,” he declared. “We tried to come here and play well, but it was always going to be difficult against Real Madrid with so many fantastic players.

“The game was good, seven goals were scored, many chances created and I hope that at the end of the day everyone was pleased. We managed to score two goals and created a couple of quality chances against great opponents. However, losing heavily on the night was not really satisfactory, but overall I believe we did really well.

“Our fans arrived here to watch us in our final Champions League game of the season against one of the best teams in the world and we are all very thankful to them for their great support,” Jovanovic concluded.

To make sure you don't miss any of A Different League's Spanish coverage this season, follow the La Liga dedicated Twitter feed: @differentliga

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