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Friday, March 16, 2012

Real Madrid, Chelsea make CL quarterfinals


LONDON — Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow, and Chelsea took until extra time to overturn a first-leg deficit and beat Napoli by the same score Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 5-2 aggregate victory for nine-time champion Madrid, taking his tally to 42 goals this season.

"We played a mature match. It wasn't anything out of this world," coach Jose Mourinho said. "We're in the quarterfinals, which is the most important thing."

Chelsea's 3-1 loss at Napoli in the first leg contributed to Andre Villas-Boas being fired, but the revival continued under interim coach Roberto Di Matteo with a third straight win.

Chelsea advanced 5-4 on aggregate, with Frank Lampard's 75th-minute penalty kick sending the game into extra time and Branislav Ivanovic scoring the winner.

In what has been a dismal season for the Premier League in Europe's elite club competition, the goal helped ensure England avoided being without a team in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1996.

In Friday's draw there will be teams from seven countries, with defending champion Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Marseille, Benfica and APOEL also through.

Madrid had failed to progress past the last 16 in the six previous years before Mourinho's arrival for the 2010-11 season, but the team's progress was secured with ease at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

After drawing 1-1 in the first leg in Moscow, there was no looking back for Spanish leader Madrid when Gonzalo Higuain found the net from Kaka's through ball.

Ronaldo's long-range shot was then fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Sergei Chepchugov in the 55th minute.

Although Karim Benzema poked home the rebound from his own shot in the 70th, Zoran Tosic canceled it out from distance seven minutes later.

But Benzema set up Ronaldo to round off the win by tapping the ball into an empty net in the closing seconds.

"The most important thing isn't always to score but to play as a team and to be a collective," Mourinho said.

Mourinho's former club, Chelsea, has spent the last week and a half regrouping after Villas-Boas was fired. But the London team's season appears to be back on track, even if it is only fifth in the Premier League.

"The lads put in a great display. Really solid, really resilient, with the firepower going forward," captain John Terry said. "We proved we're a team tonight. That desire, that togetherness. We showed what Chelsea are made of tonight."

Napoli's first-leg lead had been wiped out by the 48th minute.

Fresh from scoring his 100th Premier League goal on the weekend, Didier Drogba headed home from Ramires' cross in the 29th minute. Terry then nodded the ball into the net from Frank Lampard's corner at the start of the second half.

And after Ivanovic's header hit the raised hand of Andrea Dossena, Lampard leveled the tie on aggregate from the penalty spot.

Ivanovic scored the decisive goal in stoppage time, the defender lashing the ball into the roof of the net before helping his side protect the lead.

"He finished it unbelievably, like a striker really," Lampard said. "He deserved that. He was fantastic tonight and was a symbol of the determination we showed, the way he played.

"It was important we showed a desire and spirit to keep ourselves in the competition. It's been a difficult season, but a performance like that tonight can change things for us so it's important we go on from here."

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