Real Madrid Advance to Champions League Knockout Stage, Defeat Apoel Nicosia

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist INovember 21, 2017

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the sixth goal of his team during the Champions League Group H soccer match between APOEL Nicosia and Real Madrid at GSP stadium, in Nicosia, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Petros Karadjias/Associated Press

Holders Real Madrid secured their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League after crushing Apoel Nicosia 6-0 in Cyprus on Tuesday.

The visitors were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Luka Modric, Nacho Hernandez and a double from Karim Benzema.

There was more to follow after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice to seal the win.

However, Madrid only go through as runners-up after Tottenham Hotspur confirmed top spot with victory over Borussia Dortmund in Group H's other game.

Zinedine Zidane made changes to his side with both Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez starting and Marcelo captaining the side in the absence of the injured Sergio Ramos.

The club shared their lineup via their official Twitter account:

The hosts suffered an early concern with goalkeeper Nauzet Perez blocking a Ronaldo shot but spilling the ball and then colliding with his own defender.

According to ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan, he was feeling dizzy but was allowed to stay on:

Madrid then took the lead midway through the first half, a cross from Dani Carvajal only casually cleared and falling straight to the Croatian to volley home from outside the area.

Goal's Ben Hayward noted how it was a rare goal for the influential Modric: 

Benzema then grabbed his first of the night after a neat passing move saw Toni Kroos send him through a gaping hole in the home defence and he finished clinically.

Two minutes later and Nacho had grabbed a third, flicking home from close range after Raphael Varane had headed on a corner.

With half-time looming, Benzema then grabbed his second of the night, but the goal owed much to Ronaldo.

Madrid hit the hosts on the break with the Portugal international cutting into the box and beating his man before unselfishly finding Benzema to tap into an empty net.

Opta showed how it was a landmark first 45 minutes for the Spanish champions:

The visitors continued where they left off after the break, Ronaldo netting the fifth less than four minutes after the restart, heading home Marcelo's cross.

B/R Football showed how it was a record-breaking goal:

He added a second shortly afterwards, capitalising on some awful defending to fire into an empty net from the edge of the box after Benzema had closed down goalkeeper Nauzet.

Incredibly it was another record-breaking goal for the Madrid star, per Opta:

Madrid had further chances to score but were too casual at times, and they will not have a more comfortable evening in the competition than this.

Zidane's side will, however, so through as runners-up, which could mean a potentially tricky tie in the next round against one of the other group winners.

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