Madrid thrashes APOEL 6-0 to make Champions League last 16
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS
Nov. 22, 2017
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — With Karim Benzema finding his scoring touch and Cristiano Ronaldo adding to his tally, Real Madrid again made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Benzema scored twice in the first half and Ronaldo netted twice in the second as Madrid thrashed Cypriot team APOEL 6-0 to guarantee a spot in the last 16 on Tuesday.
Luka Modric and Nacho Fernandez also scored for the defending champions, who have made it past the group stage for 22 straight seasons.
The result eliminated Borussia Dortmund, which lost to Tottenham 2-1 in Germany in the other Group H match.
Tottenham heads into the final round leading Madrid by three points and has already secured first place. Dortmund and APOEL have no chance of advancing.
Madrid also finished second in its group last season, to Dortmund, marking the first time the Spanish club has failed to advance in first place since the 2012-13 season.
Tottenham hosts APOEL on Dec. 6, while Madrid hosts Dortmund.
"We came here to qualify and we did it," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "It was a good night. We are satisfied."
Madrid won only one of its last four matches in all competitions, but it found easy pickings in Nicosia to earn its biggest ever away win in the Champions league.
Modric opened the scoring with a long-range shot midway through the first half and Benzema and Fernandez added their goals seven minutes apart just before halftime.
Benzema hadn't scored in six matches in all competitions.
"Forwards aren't always about scoring," Benzema said. "If I can help my teammates with passes and movement, I will do (it). Today I was lucky enough to score two goals and do something good for my side."
Ronaldo has been struggling in the Spanish league with only one goal in 12 rounds, but he already has eight in the Champions League and is the competition's leading scorer.
The Spanish powerhouse is trying to become the first team since Bayern Munich in 1976 to win three consecutive European titles. Ajax did it in 1971-73, and Madrid won four in a row from 1956-60.
APOEL hasn't won a group stage match in the Champions League since 2012.
"Today we've made so many mistakes that we haven't made before," APOEL coach Giorgos Donis said. "In the last game we'll try to avoid those mistakes."
AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report from Madrid.
More AP Champions League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/ChampionsLeague