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Real Madrid book Champions League last 16 spot

Real Madrid defeated Sheriff to seal their spot in the Champions League knockout stages, thanks to goals from Karim Benzema, David Alaba, and Toni Kroos. Karim Benzema scored on the same day he was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence as Real Madrid swept aside Sheriff by a 3-0 match score to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

After being found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, France forward Benzema was also fined €75,000 as per football news. It did not prove to be a distraction for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, however, as they brushed aside their less illustrious opponents with the minimum of fuss – at odds with their shock home defeat in the reverse fixture.

Ahead at the break David Alaba and Toni Kroos put Madrid two goals, and before the hour mark, Benzema added a third goal to seal his side’s place in the knockout stages with a game to spare in Group D. Benzema saw an early goal ruled out for offside after Georgios Athanasiadis had parried Kroos’ shot, and the Sheriff goalkeeper got down well to Rodrygo’s strike before the midway point of the first half.

Madrid’s dominance was rewarded in the 30th minute, though, when Alaba’s free-kick from 20 yards was deflected past Athanasiadis for the Austria international’s first Champions League goal for the club. Stroking in a sublime effort from 20 yards via the underside of the crossbar Kroos then doubled Madrid’s advantage in first-half stoppage time.

In the 55th minute, Benzema scored his fifth goal of this season’s competition with a cool strike into Athanasiadis’ bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area. Sebastien Thill’s cross crashed back off Thibaut Courtois’ post as Sheriff rallied in the closing stages, yet Madrid held firm to ensure there was no blot on their copybook this time.

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