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On to the Champions League quarter-finals

MATCH REPORT. 16/03/2021. Alberto Navarro. Photographer: Antonio Villalba y Helios de la Rubia

Goals from Benzema, Ramos and Asensio secured victory for Real Madrid and a spot in the next round.

Real Madrid saw off Atalanta in the return leg of the sides' Champions League tie to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition. Whilst in the first-leg bout Ferland Mendy popped up with the all important goal, this time round it was the on-song Benzema, who has found the net in each of his last five outings, who struck the decisive goal. There was an inspired showing from Vinicius Jr., who earned the penalty that Sergio Ramos converted, before Marco Asensio put the result beyond all doubt as he made it 3-1. The madridistas, who are riding a nine-game unbeaten streak, now await Friday's draw in Nyon (12 noon CET), when they will discover their quarter-final fate.

Atalanta came out all guns blazing right from the first whistle and carved out a chance to open the scoring when Luis Muriel slung over a cross that found Robin Gosens, whose effort was gathered in by Thibaut Courtois. After weathering the initial storm, Real Madrid began to assert their dominance and fashion some chances. Indeed, the hosts nearly made the breakthrough on 27', when Vinicius Jr. linked up with Benzema, who with his back to goal played a first-time pass back to the Brazilian and his shot from inside the area struck Berat Djimsiti. However, the madridistas weren't to be denied just seven minutes later, when Luka Modric showed all of his intelligence and positional sense to pick up a clearance from Atalanta goalkeeper, Sportiello, before driving into the box and teeing up Benzema for a simple finish.

Video.3-1: On to the Champions League quarter-finals

Real Madrid quickly carved out the first dangerous passage of play following the half-time break. Vinicius Jr. picked up the ball deep inside his own half, exchanged passes with Mendy and set out on a mazy run, leaving three opposition players in his wake before coming up just short, failing to beat Sportiello with the outside of his right boot. Six minutes later and the Brazilian was at it again. This time, he won the ball back inside the opposition half and bore down on the area, where he was upended by Tolói. Sergio Ramos stepped up to convert the spot-kick and put Madrid in the driving seat in the tie. 

Asensio scores with first touch
The game had become an end-to-end affair now, and Zapata looked to catch Courtois out with an effort from the edge of the box with 67 minutes gone, before the hosts responded almost immediately. Lucas Vázquez whipped a lovely ball into the box and Sportiello did superbly to keep out Benzema’s initial header, while the French striker could only turn the follow-up against the post. Atalanta knew they had to push forward and Zapata found himself through one-on-one with Courtois with 76 minutes on the clock, but the Belgian came out on top. Seven minutes later, Muriel’s sublime free-kick did beat the goalkeeper, but Real Madrid wasted no time at all in hitting back. Having barely set foot on the field of play, Asensio’s first touch was a flick of his left boot with which he tucked the ball into the net to clinch a place in the quarter-final draw. Rodrygo had a chance to put the gloss on an impressive win in injury time but Sportiello read the one-on-one situation to keep him out.

BENZEMA HAS REGISTERED IN EACH OF HIS LAST FIVE OUTINGS

The frontman was again on the mark and has now netted six times in his last five games, with Getafe, Valencia, Atlético, Elche and Atalanta on the receiving end.

THE QUARTER-FINAL DRAW TAKES PLACE ON FRIDAY AT 12:00 NOON (CET)

Real Madrid will discover their Champions League quarter-final opponents on Friday, 19 March. The draw take place at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon at 12 noon (CET). Zinedine Zidane's met will face one of the following teams: Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, PSG, Manchester City and the winners of the ties between Lazio and Bayern and Atlético and Chelsea.

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Timeline

The referee

Danny Makkelie (Holland), assisted by Hessel Steegstra and Mario Diks. Allard Lindhout was the fourth official, whilst Kevin Blom (Holland) was the VAR referee.

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