Real thump Plzen
> Madrid one win away from Champions League last 16
KARIM BENZEMA’S first-half brace propelled Real Madrid to a 5-0 thrashing of Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League yesterday, putting the holders one win from the last 16 after a third straight victory under Santiago Solari.
Former Real midfielder Solari took over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui as interim coach on Oct 29, and has now seen his side score 11 times without reply following wins over Melilla and Real Valladolid.
“I think we played a very nice game today, we scored wonderful goals,” Solari told reporters.
“A 5-0 win in the Champions League – I can only be happy with that.”
The 42-year-old Argentinian dismissed questions about his possible future as Real’s head coach.
“I only think about the next game. Football is about the present and it’s the next game that matters,” he said, with a trip to Celta Vigo on Sunday next up for Real.
Benzema struck first in the 21st minute yesterday, weaving his way through the Plzen defence and beating goalkeeper Ales Hruska with a low shot.
Casemiro made it two shortly afterwards by nodding in a Toni Kroos corner, and Benzema headed home himself in the 37th minute after Gareth Bale had found him unmarked just yards out.
Bale scored five minutes before halftime, beating Hruska with a low left-footed shot at his far post following Benzema’s flick-on header.
Kroos rounded off the scoring in the 68th minute, curling a sumptuous lob over the stranded Hruska following a pass from rising star Vinicius Junior, who came on as a second-half substitute. The 18-year-old Brazilian, signed from Flamengo for € 45 million (RM212m) in the close season, made his Champions League debut after scoring his maiden La Liga goal against Valladolid at the weekend. Real are now level with Roma at the top of Group G on nine points, after the Italians’ 2-1 win at CSKA Moscow. CSKA are third with four points, while Plzen sit at the bottom and are out of contention to progress. Real were without the injured Marcelo and fellow defenders Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal, who did not travel to Plzen, a western Czech city famous for its lager beer. Plzen, the reigning Czech champions, had two attempts on goal from long range in the second half, but Jan Kopic saw his effort stopped by Thibaut Courtois and Patrik Hrosovsky, who scored for Plzen in their 2-1 loss in Madrid in October, fired wide. In their next Champions League game, Real face Roma in Rome on Nov 27. – AFP
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (left) in action with Viktoria Plzen’s Roman Hubnik during their UEFA Champions League match at Doosan Arena yesterday. –Robert Lewandowski marked his 100th European match with both goals in yesterday’s home victory over the reigning Greek champions as Bayern moved top of Group E. Kramaric gave the Germans hope, and Kaderabek popped up at the back post to stab in a dramatic leveller in the second minute of added time and extend Hoffenheim’s debut group-stage campaign.“We didn’t realise that in a football match, nothing is ever finished,” bemoaned Lyon midfielder Lucas Tousart to“These are unacceptable errors to make at this level, when you’re looking to qualify... It’s so annoying to end up with a draw when we had the game in our hands.”Lyon slip three points behind Group F leaders Manchester City as they bid to qualify for the last 16 for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.“We played a good match anyway, even if we don’t leave with victory and we are disappointed,” said Fekir.