Sporting Lisbon 1-2 Real Madrid: Late Benzema strike keeps Madrid on Dortmund's tail

A late goal from Real Madrid substitute Karim Benzema secured a narrow 2-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon, and secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

There was a few near chances in the opening stages, but the game didn't burst into the life until Raphael Varane's opener in the 29th minute. Bruno Cesar had an excellent chance to equalise, but the score remained the same going into the break.

It got worse for the hosts, with the dismissal of Joao Pereira midway through the second period, but looked to have secured a point with Adrien Silva's 79th-minute penalty. However a 86th minute strike from Benzema secured the three points for Zinedine Zidane's side.

Varane fires in the opener

The current holders passage into the knockout stages looked all but sealed, but needed a win in the Estádio José Alvalade to make sure of it.

However, both lacked anything going forward in the opening proceedings with half-opportunities from Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to his old stomping ground, but Madrid managed to take the lead just before the half hour mark.

Luka Modric whipped a great free-kick which was flicked on by Ronaldo, his faint touch founds it way to Varane who finished well to give the visitors the advantage.

Sporting was almost back in it almost instantaneously, Gelson pulled the back to Cesar and his effort looked destined to nestle past Keylor Navas. However he couldn't find a way past Sergio Ramos, who did brilliantly to somehow block his effort.

The Spaniard did slip up close to the break, as he handed the ball straight to Bas Dost. The striker looked to slip in Silva, but the skipper had strayed offside.

Taking the good with the bad

The second period started in a very similar fashion to the first, with neither side showing any eagerness to bomb forward. However Sporting's task was made a whole lot harder when they were reduced to ten men.

It came out the blue as substitute Joel Campbell looked to make an instant impact, but referee William Collum pulled up the play for an incident between Pereira and Mateo Kovacic. It appeared that Pereira had struck Kovacic in the stomach, which left the Scottish official with no option but to give him his marching orders.

It would have seemed that the game was over at that point, but Jorge Jesus' managed to find a way back into the game. Campbell looked to flick the ball past Fabio Coentrao, who seemingly handled the ball and Collum pointed to the spot. Silva stepped up and coolly sent Navas the wrong way.

Madrid take all three points

Both Lucas Vazquez and Campbell had decent opportunities as the clock ticked down, but it was impact sub Benzema who proved to be the difference.

The Frenchman is currently returning from injury, but he was on top form as he got in front of Sunderland loanee Sebastian Coates to head Ramos' cross into the far corner to secure the three points.