Benzema scores again as Real see off Atalanta

Karim Benzema scored in a fifth successive game as Real Madrid secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Atalanta (agg 4-1).

The La Liga side had been 1-0 up from the first leg and, after the Italians missed a couple of early chances, Benzema fired them ahead on the night in the 34th minute.

A penalty from captain Sergio Ramos on the hour all but ended the tie, with Luis Muriel clipping in a fine free-kick to pull a goal back for Atalanta before substitute Marco Asensio wrapped things up late on.

With Casemiro suspended, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos came back into the Real Madrid side, as Isco dropped to the bench.

Atalanta had a great chance to level the tie, but Robin Gosens failed to make enough contact with Muriel’s cross from the left and could only knock the ball straight at Thibaut Courtois.

Sergio Ramos scores from the penalty spot for Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos scored from the penalty spot for Real Madrid

Defender Berat Djimsiti fired over from a corner and the Italians were made to pay as Real Madrid started to take control.

It took a fine block from Djimsiti to deny Vinicius Junior after a clever exchange with Benzema in the penalty area to prevent the opening goal which eventually arrived in the 34th minute.

Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello made a hash of his clearance, which fell to Modric and the Croatian chased the ball down before cutting a pass back for Benzema to fire the Spaniards in front.

Los Blancos almost doubled their lead early in the second half following a fine run from Vinicius but, after powering into the penalty area, the Brazilian stabbed wide from six yards.

Marco Asensio celebrates after scoring Real Madrid's third goal
Marco Asensio scored Real Madrid’s third goal

As the hour mark approached, Real Madrid were awarded a penalty. Again, Vinicius was the instigator after he took possession from Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi and charged forwards before being tripped by Rafael Toloi.

Although contact looked to have been just outside the area, Dutch referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot and captain Sergio Ramos powered in a penalty past the diving Sportiello.

Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata finally called Courtois into action in the 67th minute, before at the other end Benzema’s header was saved and then the Frenchman nodded the rebound against the post.

With seven minutes left, Muriel clipped a well-worked 25-yard free-kick up over the wall into the top corner as several Atalanta players peeled away.

Real Madrid, though, soon restored their two-goal cushion when substitute Marco Asensio drilled the ball into the bottom corner after being picked out by Lucas Vazquez.

Opta stats

Sergio Ramos celebrates after his penalty
Sergio Ramos converted from the spot
  • Real Madrid have progressed to their 36th quarter-final in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League – at least six more times than any other side (Bayern Munich – 30).
  • Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has now won 30 matches in the UEFA Champions League in 49 matches in charge – only Josef Heynckes (42) and Pep Guardiola (48) won their 30th game in a fewer number of matches than the Frenchman.
  • Only Barcelona (28 wins v English teams) have beaten sides from a particular country more often in the UEFA Champions League than Real Madrid against Italian opposition, with this their 26th victory against said teams.
  • Karim Benzema (21) has scored at least 15 more goals than any other Real Madrid player in all competitions this season (Casemiro, 6), with his opener his 70th UEFA Champions League goal – the fifth most of any player in the competition.

What’s next?

The Champions League quarter-final and semi-final draw will take place from 11am UK time on Friday, March 19. You will be able to follow both draws with Sky Sports.

Real Madrid are back in La Liga action on Saturday when they travel to Celta Vigo. Atalanta travel to Verona on Sunday in Serie A.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *