Benzema brace propels Madrid past Gladbach, into last 16

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Real Madrid reached the UEFA Champions League last 16 and eased the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane with a 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.

Karim Benzema netted two first-half headers to settle the contest in the Spanish capital, which Madrid had to win to make certain they did not crash out at the group stage of the competition for the first time.

Gladbach slipped into second spot in Group B with their defeat, but Inter's draw with Shakhtar Donetsk means the Bundesliga side join Los Blancos in the next round.

This was billed as a must-win contest not only for the 13-time European champions' hopes of competing for the trophy, but also for Zidane, whose future came under intense scrutiny after last week's loss to Shakhtar.

There was a clear response to the critics as Madrid led inside nine minutes, Lucas Vazquez picking out Benzema, who headed expertly beyond the reach of Yann Sommer.

Alassane Plea should have levelled but clipped a finish wide of the right-hand post after being sent through on goal by Florian Neuhaus.

That miss was punished just after the half-hour mark, Rodrygo's wicked cross setting up Benzema for a header that was too much for Sommer to keep out.

It would have been 3-0 before the break had Sommer not got fingertips to Luka Modric's volley to turn the ball onto the post, before the excellent Madrid midfielder had an emphatic strike ruled out for an earlier offside against Raphael Varane.

Sommer made a terrific save to keep out a Toni Kroos strike, although Gladbach were certainly improved after the interval and saw another chance go begging when Plea dragged a shot narrowly wide.

Sommer was again at full stretch to claw away Sergio Ramos' header before Benzema's follow-up somehow crashed off the underside of the crossbar and away, and the woodwork again denied Madrid in the closing stages when Vazquez's shot rebounded off the upright.

Source Omnisport