Champions League: Karim Benzema joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in exclusive goal club

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The cream rose to the top on Wednesday night as Real Madrid hauled themselves into yet another Champions League knockout stage.

That makes 29 out of 29 for the Spanish mega-club, who have never failed to get out of their group in Europe's elite club competition.

With the spectre of the Europa League beckoning, Madrid stepped it up a notch to ensure they remained in the conversation for the prize they covet most.

It wasn't always pretty, however, with the 13-time champions making frightfully hard work of a group they would normally have expected to cruise through.

Shock losses to Shakhtar Donetsk saw them enter the final round of fixtures in third place in Group B and needing a positive result to advance.

Step up, Karim Benzema.

The French striker took the game by the scruff of the neck with two incredibly crucial first-half goals to give the Spanish side command of the clash going into the break.

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Benzema's brace would prove to be more than enough as a professional performance saw Madrid close out the game and book their spot in the last-16.

In the process of netting his double, Benzema joined a very exclusive Champions League club as he became the only player, other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to score 50 group stage goals in the tournament.

Benzema often gets a lot of stick, but you simply can't argue with his numbers.

In 106 Champions League games, he has netted 57 goals while registering 24 assists .

He has regularly shown himself to be more than reliable when it comes to leading the Madrid line and once again proved his importance this week.

With Sergio Ramos returning to the fold following a lengthy injury absence, Zinedine Zidane will be hoping the win over Gladbach proves to be a turning point in what has been a stuttering season so far.

While they are by no means the favourites to win an unprecedented 14th European cup, you can never truly rule the Spaniards out when it comes to the Champions League.

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