Karim Benzema’s header crushed Chelsea’s remarkable comeback as Real Madrid lost 3-2 at the Estadio Bernabéu but reached the Champions League semi-finals 5-4 on aggregate.
France’s ruthless hit man Benzema produced a carbon copy of the two headed goals he scored in last week’s quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge, where his hat-trick had Real Madrid waiting. get into the quarterfinals.
Champions League champions Chelsea appeared in Madrid with other ideas, great ideas indeed, of a memorable and challenging comeback in this pulsating second leg.
The Blues shook off the 3-1 deficit in the first leg and tore Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti to pieces.
Mason Mount, Toni Rudiger and Timo Werner put the Blues 3-0 up and on the cusp of completing that Madrid miracle, and that with a Marcos Alonso strike scoring for the handball.
However, Luka Modric rescued Real, delivering a sublime pass that allowed Rodrygo to run and volley into the net past a stunned Edouard Mendy.
Chelsea’s fourth extra time this season duly came and, after all their efforts and three clever goals, a header from Benzema brought home the Madrid side.
The 34-year-old deflected Vinicius Junior’s cross with another powerful aerial shot to snatch the Champions League title from Chelsea.
Benzema now has 38 goals in as many games for Real Madrid in all competitions this season. Such marksmanship invariably produces trophies and Madrid will feel quite capable of claiming their 14th Champions League title this year.
Chelsea warmed to their task without delay, with Reece James’s yellow card for a tug on Vinicius the only early concern.
The Blues boasted much more poise and control than in the first leg and took the lead when Mount converted a ball that landed well in the box.
Chelsea built steadily on the move towards goal and Mount drove home in style to give the visitors the perfect start.
Vinicius threatened again down the left but was never able to let go like at Stamford Bridge in a first half full of frustrations for the locals.
When Benzema was booked for an aerial tackle on Thiago Silva, the jeers from the home crowd seemed to have shaken the people of Madrid.
Ancelotti’s side seemed nervous and certainly lacking in rhythm or fluidity.
Chelsea pretty much traded the ideal half from their perspective, taking that 1-0 lead on the night until the break.
Thomas Tuchel’s side withstood the pressure from the restart, and Madrid continued with their curious maneuver of sitting back and letting Chelsea dominate the ball.
The passivity of the hosts continued unabated, even after a chance to recalibrate at halftime.
When Rudiger hit a header from the Mount corner, the Blues were up 2-0 on the night and level in the tie.
Alonso thought he had sent them to dreamland and a 3-0 lead, only to have his crisp goal disallowed after a VAR review. The Spanish defender was deemed to have handled the ball after a rebound in the box, giving Madrid a huge breathing space.
The locals almost took an immediate advantage but Benzema hit the crossbar when he should have scored.
Chelsea kept their cool and launched even more well-structured attacks and a fine threaded ball from Mateo Kovacic sent Werner on target.
The Germany star spun, then turned and fired a side shot that found its way into goal via a deflection.
Madrid seemed on the brink but then Modric conjured up the pass of the night. The Croatian playmaker sent an impressive ball to Rodrygo, who advanced and finished with the volley.
From listless and apathetic to bubbly and flowing, Madrid was transformed in that instant.
However, Chelsea barely finished and replacement Christian Pulisic fired from an excellent position on the inside left of the Madrid box.
The United States striker then surged forward from an even better position in the six-yard box, holding on to Kai Havertz’s drop.
Madrid found more spark in extra time and Benzema finally appeared with that trademark header.
Chelsea narrowly lost possession and Vinicius broke free to push the Frenchman in for another throbbing headed goal.
Trailing 3-2 on the night, Madrid were still poised to progress on aggregate and this time Chelsea could find no more answer.
Hakim Ziyech saw a stinging shot well saved by Thibaut Courtois, before Havertz shot wide when he was wide open in the box and Jorginho also shot wide.