Champions League news - Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos help lead Real Madrid into last eight
Champions League, Last 16 - Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano - Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 34', Ramos P 60', Asensio 84') Atalanta 1 (Muriel 83') Real Madrid win 4-1 on aggregate.
Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's second during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Real Madrid and Atalanta at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on March 16, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.
Real Madrid cruised into the quarterfinals of the Champions League with a 4-1 aggregate win over Atalanta at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium.
The Italian visitors played some tidy football but never really threatened to overturn Real’s 1-0 lead from the first leg, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois barely tested until late on.
It took Madrid some time to get going themselves, but the opener was handed to them on a plate after 34 minutes when Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello passed a clearance straight to Luka Modric, who exploited the space brilliantly to tee up Karim Benzema.
MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 16: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Real Madrid and Atalanta at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on March 16, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.
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Atalanta brought on an extra forward at the break, but it was Real who looked the more dangerous at the start of the second half, with Vinicius Jr going close to a magnificent solo goal, only for the finish to slide agonisingly wide. And it was Vinicius again who was involved in Real’s second, with the Brazilian winning possession in midfield and bursting into the box, where he was brought down just inside the area by his compatriot Rafael Toloi.
Sergio Ramos dispatched the opportunity from the spot to make it 2-0 on the night, effectively ending Atalanta’s hopes of a comeback.
Luis Muriel’s excellent free-kick on 83 minutes was too little too late for the visitors, and substitute Asensio made sure it was little more than a consolation by restoring the three-goal advantage just moments later on the counter-attack.
Real Madrid will discover their quarterfinal opponents on Friday when the draw is held at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, while Atalanta’s defeat leaves Lazio as the only Italian side left in the competition.
Talking Point – Do Real Madrid have enough?
This game was relatively comfortable for Real Madrid, but you do wonder whether they’ve got quite enough to cope with the best in Europe right now. Despite Atalanta’s lack of cutting edge, there was still very much a sense that Real were vulnerable when the tempo was upped. And although Luka Modric and Toni Kroos still ooze class, a midfield pairing with a combined age of 66 isn’t the ideal set-up to cope with the likes of Bayern or Man City. Bigger tests await for Zidane’s side.
Real Madrid's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Atalanta at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid on March
Image credit: Getty Images
Man of the Match – Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The Real Madrid centre-forward is getting better and better. He oozed class throughout this match, scored one and should have had at least one more. But it is the Frenchman’s work on the ball rather than in-front of goal that sets him apart. He must be an absolute dream to play with, holding it up when needed, picking out the pass when required, and linking everything together for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
3’ – Atalanta go extremely close to open the scoring, but Gosens makes a poor connection when meeting a dangerous cross into the box and it’s a comfortable save for Courtois.
34’ GOAL – Benzema opens the scoring for Real Madrid! A clearance from the keeper was poor and intercepted by Modric, and the Croatian did brilliantly to burst into the box, suck in all the defenders, and then play a no-look pass across the box for Benzema to tuck home. 1-0!
45’ – The half-time whistle goes just as Atalanta look to have opened up the Real Madrid defence with a through-ball to Muriel. That was very odd, the striker may have been closed down by Ramos, but there was a definite shooting opportunity there.
58’ – Atalanta give the ball away and it’s Vinicius who does the damage, nipping in to win the ball and bursting into the box. The youngster is fouled right on the edge of the box and a spot-kick is given, despite the defender appealing that the incident was outside the box.
60’ – Ramos dispatches the spot-kick, although Sportiello did get a hand to it, and it’s 3-0 on aggregate. Is that the tie over?
68’ – Benzema’s close-range header is brilliantly saved and the Frenchman turns the rebound onto the post. He should have scored there.
74’ – Zapata has Atalanta’s best effort of the night, but Courtois pulls off a great save with his legs as the ball looks to be arrowing into the bottom corner.
83’ GOAL – What a goal that is! Atalanta try a clever routine to try and distract the goalkeeper with runners off the ball from a free-kick, but it still needs a great shot and Muriel delivers, curling his effort over the wall and in.
84’ GOAL – Asensio scores with what might have been his first touch. Real break and it’s three on three. Vazquez does well to pick out a pass, and Asensio tucks the finish into the far corner to make it 4-1 on aggregate
Stats and Facts
Karim Benzema has scored 15 more goals than any other Real Madrid player this season.
Benzema is the fifth highest scorer in Champions League history. His opening goal was his 70th in the competition.