4th of April 2013 Author: Johnny Karp
Spanish champions Real Madrid are almost sure of reaching Champions League semi-finals after brushing aside Galatasaray in the first leg of their quarter-final tie. Cristiano Ronaldo gave the home side an early lead by chipping over goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, Benzema made it 2-0 before half time and Gonzalo Higuain scored the final goal of the match with 17 minutes left on the clock. Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue had the best chances for the Turkish champions but they were unable to find the back of the net.
In fact, Galatasaray were worthy competitors for the Spanish giants in the opening 70 minutes and created a number of good opportunities, especially in the first half. But Real Madrid made their experience and talent in attack count, with a bit of help from the Turkish defence. Real Madrid, chasing a record 24th semi final appearance in the Champions League, made a bright start to the match and were rewarded after just nine minutes when Ronaldo received a perfect through ball from Mesut Ozil before chipping it over goalkeeper Muslera.
Galatasaray reacted very well and star striker Didier Drogba created a good chance from the edge of the penalty area but fired over the bar. Drogba then tried his luck with a shot from 20 yards, a powerful effort that was punched clear by goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Those missed chances proved very costly as Real Madrid doubled their advantage on 29 minutes when Michael Essien delivered a good cross from the right flank, Eboue failed to clear it and Benzema cushioned the ball before powering it into the back of the net. Eboue had a chance to redeem himself before the interval but he fired straight at the goalkeeper after being set up by a cool one-two with Drogba.
Things were not so heated after the break, clear chances were quite rare but Real Madrid still managed to get on the scoreboard when a free kick from Xabi Alonso was headed home by Higuain to record his first Champions League goal of the season. The Spanish champions are almost sure of reaching the semi finals at this point, even though they will have to play the second leg without suspended Sergio Ramos and Alonso.
Barcelona remain the favourites to win the competition according to Bet365, Messi and company are 7/4 to win the crown while Real Madrid are 2/1 and Bayern Munich are 10/3 to win the most prestigious trophy in European football.
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