Real Madrid beat Sheriff to make it to the last 16

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Canberra:

Karim Benzema scored just hours after being found guilty by a French court in a blackmail case as Real Madrid reached the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Sheriff Traspol on Wednesday.

The French striker confidently scored his team’s third goal in Transnistria, as Real avenged a 2-1 defeat to the Sheriff in Madrid earlier this season.

The victory sent the Spaniards back to Group D, two points ahead of second-placed Inter Milan, who beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 to qualify for the last 16.

Madrid now need to avoid defeat in their last group game against Inter at the Santiago Bernabeu to secure first place in the group.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said: “We are on the right track. I like the way we are playing, the team that beat Inter 1-0 in their first group game in September.

“The squad is in good shape, everyone is physically strong. We need to go to the top and we will try to end our group campaign the way we started it.”

The defeat has dashed the Sheriff’s hopes of promotion, but a memorable debut Champions League campaign has already secured third place and a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Benzema, who was sentenced to one year in prison for trying to blackmail former French colleague Matthew Valboena, rejected the initial attempt as offside.

Madrid prevailed, but in the 18th minute, Rodrigo struggled to find a way home with a good goal from home goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasius.

But in the distance David Alba advanced on the half hour mark.

The Austrian defender’s free kick bounced off the sheriff’s wall and passed helplessly.

The hosts were struggling to get out of their own half, and Danny Carvajal added about a second for Real as he headed in over the crossbar.

The 13-time European champion doubled his lead in the first half’s stoppage time, however, a brilliant move from Tony Cross’s first-time shot was deflected off the crossbar and rewarded with goal line technology.

Benzema scored his goal in the 55th minute to find a place on the edge of the box and punched the ball into the bottom corner to score the 15th goal of the season.

It was also the striker’s 76th goal in his Champions League career.

“We haven’t talked about this (court decision), it’s calm, it’s a topic we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Ancelotti said.

Real were troubled as Alaba scored in place of Nacho in the 65th minute, but Ancelotti said it was not a serious injury.

The Italian added: “We took Alabama off because he twisted his ankle slightly, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.” “We are confident that they will be ready for the upcoming games.”

The sheriff scored in each of his first four group games and his chances flared up in the middle of the second half, with Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois making two saves and hitting a cross post.

But in the end it was a comfortable trip for Madrid as they knocked out for the 25th year in a row.





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