Real Madrid was lucky to secure the first-leg Round of 16 Champions League match against Atalanta. It deserved to win at home on Tuesday.

Karim Benzema took advantage of an error by Atalanta’s goalkeeper to help Real Madrid to a 3-1 victory on Tuesday in Madrid. Los Blancos qualified for the quarterfinals with a 4-1 aggregate victory.

The first leg between the two was marred by an early red card to Remo Freuler on February 24. Despite the red card, Real Madrid needed a late winner from Ferland Mendy to score.

The second leg on Tuesday was close in several ways, except that the Spanish team was much superior and deserved to win.

Much as in the first leg, Atalanta came out on top. Within minutes, Robin Gosens had a shot inside the six-yard box (which he fired straight at Thibaut Courtois), and Real Madrid took their time getting into the game.

However, as the first leg, Atalanta faded after the 15th minute. Instead of a red card, Madrid’s midfield of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Federico Valverde took charge.

The level of control paid off with the opening goal, with high pressing pushing keeper Marco Sportiello into an appalling, Arsenal-style giveaway to Modri. The rest was up to the Croatian, who set up Karim Benzema for his 70th Champions League goal.

Sportiello just had himself to blame, and his reaction was essentially the same as mine when I lose a race in Mario Kart. It was almost as if he transformed into a Muppet because I’ve never seen a human’s arms flail as much as Sportiello’s did after the ball reached the back of the net.

The goal proved fatal for the hosts, who were unable to stage a significant comeback. And, according to the first leg, the game essentially ended in the second half.

Rafael Tolói fouled Vinicius on the outside of the box, close to where Freuler was sent off in the first leg. This time, the referee merely pointed to the spot, resulting in a yellow card for Tolói. Sergio Ramos scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-0 on aggregate, leaving Atalanta with a challenge to conquer.


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