APOEL DREAM RUN OVER - JOVANOVIC
APOEL Nicosia coach Ivan Jovanovic believes his side are as good as eliminated from the Champions League following their 3-0 home defeat to Real Madrid in Tuesday night's quarter-final first leg in Cyprus.
The hosts battled gamely for much of the match but were finally breached in the 74th minute when the impressive Kaka set up Karim Benzema before the Brazilian tucked away fellow substitute Marcelo's excellent cutback eight minutes later.
Benzema's second gave the scoreline an emphatic look despite a mighty defensive effort by APOEL, whose giant-killing run has accounted for Lyon, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The need to score three or four times without reply in the return leg at the Bernabeu means APOEL's chances of progressing are slim at best, and Jovanovic concedes the tie is already settled and backed Madrid to go all the way to the final in Munich in May.
"The result was fair," Jovanovic said in the post-match press conference. "We tried to contain them but they upped their tempo towards the end and we could not hold on.
"Madrid are in the semi-finals, there's no question about that. I even believe that they will reach the final and hopefully win it."
He added: "It was very gratifying to play against a team like Real Madrid. We all saw first-hand what a quality side they are.
"You could say this game was a crowning moment for the fantastic campaign we produced this season in the competition.
"My players have done themselves proud throughout this campaign and once again against superior opponents like Madrid."
APOEL forward Ivan Trickovski said Madrid simply overpowered them in the final stages of the match as the home side ran out of steam.
"It was an extremely difficult match, very tough," Trickovski told uefa.com.
"Real Madrid are the best team in the world, and it was very difficult for us. We tried to do something, but in the last minutes we conceded three goals. They deserved to win.
"Maybe we lost because we lost our concentration a bit, because they had been attacking for the whole match and creating chances.
"I think this is possibly the best way to go out of this competition.
"We have one more game but to finish against Real Madrid is fantastic."
Latest Football News at 20:00 BST