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Champions League: Real Madrid and Chelsea Take Giant Strides

Real Madrid and Chelsea took giant strides towards the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday as they both recorded away wins in their quarterfinal first leg matches, AFP reports.

A double from French striker Karim Benzema inspired nine-time winner Real to a 3-0 victory over Cypriot surprise package APOEL Nicosia and all but ensured a last four spot against the winner of Marseille and Bayern Munich.

A second-half goal from Salomon Kalou gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Portuguese outfit Benfica — ironically the only side playing on Tuesday that didn’t field a Portuguese player in its starting line-up — to inflict the first home defeat for the host in Europe this term.

It puts the English side in a strong position for next week’s second leg and a semifinal against either holder Barcelona or AC Milan.

APOEL had worked wonders to reach this stage — unprecedented for a Cypriot club — but its limitations were painfully exposed by a Real side bursting with superstars the host lacked.

The results: Benfica 0 lost to Chelsea 1 (Kalou 75); APOEL 0 lost to Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 74, 90, Kaka 82).