Karim Benzema stole the show again as Real Madrid did just enough to eliminate Chelsea from the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night with an overall 5-4 victory in their quarter-final match.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team came into the match with the upper hand after driving a Benzema hat trick to a 3-1 victory in the first match at Stamford Bridge, and despite losing the second match 3-2 to the Champions League holders, they advanced overall. .
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“We suffered a lot,” Ancelotti said after the match. “We went down 2-0 without deserving it. With the first half we had, we created chances, we were not hungry to go and score because we did not need it, but for me, 2-0 was undeserved. From there, we dropped off a bit, and then liberated the 3-0 team, and I think within the 120 minutes we deserved it.
“3-0 freed us, from there the fans started to push on, the magic of this stadium and this team came out again. We knew we were going to suffer, it’s normal, Chelsea are still a great team.
“We have to be proud of what we have done, we played a very tough quarter-final against PSG, a very tough quarter-final against Chelsea.”
Mason Mount put Chelsea ahead with 15 minutes of play to give them hope of a draw as the visitors dominated the first half. They went up 2-0 – equalized the overall score – after the break when Antonio Rudiger headed in Mount’s corner.
Marcos Alonso had a goal rejected by VAR for handball and Benzema hit the crossbar before Timo Werner beat Thibaut Courtois to 3-0, bringing Chelsea ahead 4-3 overall.
Real Madrid came back to equalize shortly after when substitute Rodrygo beat Edouard Mendy from an exquisite post into the area from Luka Modric to force extra time.
Madrid made only one change from the first match – Nacho replaced the suspended Eder Militao in central defense – while Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel brought Alonso, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic and Werner into his starting XI.
“Another incredible night at the Bernabeu. A draw was very difficult and another spectacular reaction from the team brings us to the semi-finals,” Nacho told Movistar after the match. “The important thing is that we are in the next round.
“We have a lot of things to improve, especially at the start of the match, but this is Real Madrid, we have learned here never to give up. This club’s DNA is to fight until the end. The mission is complete.
“We are ready to fight for everything, in the good and the bad moments, even if we had not gone through, we fought until the end.”
The home team created the first chance of the match – Benzema put a free kick over the crossbar after Vinicius Junior had been pulled down by Reece James – but it was Chelsea who looked more dangerous.
Kai Havertz got a shot deflected far and Rudiger headed up on the roof of the net before Mount gave Chelsea the lead, cut inside and swept the ball clinically past Courtois.
The home side seemed to react and Benzema got a shot with his left leg rejected, but Chelsea went ahead and had control at the break.
The European champions increased their lead in the 51st minute after Reece James’s shot was deflected off and Rudiger scored with a towering header from the ensuing corner.
Benzema went close again, Mendy saved his free-kick before Chelsea thought they had taken the lead in the match as Alonso blasted past Courtois, only for the goal to be properly ruled out for handball by VAR. Benzema headed towards the crossbar, but it was Chelsea who scored next time in the 75th minute through Werner, who sent a shot that Courtois could only parry across the line after the German’s stomach run through the area.
Chelsea seemed to have completed a dramatic comeback before Rodrygo – introduced just two minutes earlier – fired Modric’s delivery past Mendy in the 80th minute, making it 4-4 overall.
Nacho added: “At [Modric’s] age, every day he is better. He is an example, not only for players, but for people in general. It’s like he’s the youngest on the team. Let’s hope he’s with us for many years to come. “
Benzema was ready for more Champions League heroics in extra time as he ran on a clipped post from Vinicius and hit Mendy with a header to send Real Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals.
Real Madrid were not the only LaLiga team to advance to the Champions League on Tuesday, Villarreal shocked Bayern Munich as they drew 1-1 at the Allianz Arena to win a draw with the German champions 2-1 overall and reach the semi-finals in Europe.
“We are very happy for Villarreal,” said Ancelotti. “Madrid and Villarreal tonight have given a boost to Spanish football in Europe. People said the Spanish teams were not at the same level as the English and now there are two Spanish teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League.”