Madrid and Chelsea both claim away wins
March 28, 2012 -- Updated 0833 GMT (1633 HKT)
Karim Benzema scored twice for Real Madrid in their comfortable victory in Cyprus.
- Real Madrid and Chelsea edge closer to the Champions League semifinals with away wins
- Karim Benzema scores twice as Real Madrid win 3-0 at Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia
- A late goal from Salomon Kalou is enough for Chelsea to claim a vital victory at Benfica
(CNN) -- Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid won 3-0 at APOEL Nicosia to all but secure their place in the European Champions League semifinals.
And Jose Mourinho's side could well be joined in the last four by his former side Chelsea, who claimed a vital 1-0 success at Benfica courtesy of Salomon Kalou's late strike.
APOEL have been the fairytale story of this season's Champions League, entering the competition at the qualification stage they have continued to surprise more illustrious opponents to become the first Cypriot side to reach the quarterfinal stage.
David vs. the Galacticos: APOEL's mission impossible?
But, against the Spanish league leaders, APOEL always looked second best, failing to register a single shot on target in the whole of the 90 minutes, while conceding a remarkable 72% possession to their opponents.
Champions League preview
However, despite their dominance, Real needed three goals in the final 15 minutes to confirm their superiority.
And it was French international Benzema who finally broke the deadlock, heading home a cross from substitute Kaka.
Kaka himself added the second goal when slotting home a Marcelo pass, while Benzema secured a comfortable victory in the final minute when turning home Mesut Ozil's cross.
Madrid now appear certainties to face either Bayern Munich or Marseille in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo continues to turn Chelsea's fortunes around, following the dismissal of previous coach Andre Villas-Boas, as the London club secured a superb 1-0 victory at Benfica.
Villas-Boas had been criticized for not using Chelsea's experienced older players enough during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.
But his former assistant Di Matteo chose to leave top stars like Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard on the bench -- and his decision was vindicated with Chelsea's first away win in Europe this season.
A tight match was settled 15 minutes from time when Ivory Coast international Kalou jabbed home Fernando Torres' cross from close range as Benfica slumped to a rare home defeat.
Chelsea now only need a draw in the return leg to secure a last four showdown with either defending champions Barcelona or Italian seven-time winners AC Milan.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Luis Suarez's biting of Branislav Ivanovic is the latest episode of moments of madness when soccer stars behave badly.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT)
Sunderland's partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation is part of its bid to woo the African market.
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Each year as many as 700 Cameroonian young footballers leave Africa in search of a professional career abroad.
May 6, 2013 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Referees across Europe are feeling the heat. Insulted, threatened, chased off the field, attacked, hospitalized and, tragically, killed.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
A red card for Manchester United's Nani during Tuesday's loss to Real Madrid sparks huge social media reaction.
February 26, 2013 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Footballers have a battery of physios, fitness trainers and doctors all striving to fine-tune their physique -- but are they missing a trick?
February 26, 2013 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
No Englishman has won the EPL title in over 20 years, while a leading manager reveals that English coaches are now "not respected abroad."
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
Hardcore Italian football "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
When Jupp Heynckes made his Bundesliga debut as a player in 1965, the name of Bayern Munich was a new one for the nascent German league.
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Football's world governing body FIFA has confirmed it will use goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
Match-fixing has become a worldwide issue, with hundreds of matches under investigation -- but how do you actually fix a football game?
February 18, 2013 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
U.S soccer star Robbie Rogers has "come out" as gay on the day he retired from the game, making the announcement on his blog.
February 11, 2013 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
The wealth of owners like Chelsea's Roman Abramovich often fuels success, but for other clubs such backers prove a mixed blessing.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
Brand Beckham is moving from the "City of Angels" to the "City of Light" as the football icon signs a short-term deal and offers to give away his pay.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
Fireworks inside his own house, a car crash in his first week at Manchester City, that iconic t-shirt -- the EPL will miss Mario Balotelli.
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
The Secret Footballer reveals the complex issues surrounding racism in the English Premier League.
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
The death of 73 football fans in Port Said tragedy continues to haunt Egypt.
Today's five most popular stories