Real Madrid qualified for the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday thanks to Karim Benzema’s decisive goal in extra time in the second leg of the quarter-finals against Chelsea (3-2 win for the Blues, but 5-4 victory for the Madrid people in together of the two meetings).
Still. Already the author of an extraordinary hat-trick in the 3-1 first leg win in London, Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals at Chelsea’s expense. Once practically eliminated, down 3-0 on their lawn at the Santiago-Bernabéu, the Spanish club took advantage of the French captain’s goal in extra time to get the advantage, securing the qualification with a defeat by a single goal difference (2-3) and win the double confrontation on the overall score of 5-4.
In the 75th minute, thanks to Timo Werner, Chelsea led 3-0 in front of the Madrid crowd. For ten minutes, the European champion returned in the last four. Overwhelmed Real Madrid seemed unable to avoid defeat. In his technical area, Carlo Ancelotti seemed too passive.
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But Chelsea were impressive
For Karim Benzema to once again wear the savior suit against Paris Saint-Germain, it took a great Chelsea, which transformed within six days. Nothing to do with the team that the international flag sank at Stamford Bridge. The beginnings of this flurry are to be found in the 6-0 victory at Southampton in the league. In this bout, Thomas Tuchel had invented a significantly different 3-4-3, with a hybrid right piston role for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, keeper of the surprise. Usually lined up to the side, Reece James had the mission in the center of the defense to frame Vinicius Junior. Another strong choice: in the middle, Jorginho was left on the bench to give space to Mateo Kovacic’s activity and offensive qualities.
Faced with an almost unchanged Madrid, the results of these tactical adjustments are generally very positive. The first period of the Blues is particularly suggestive: Real, muffled and uninspired, fails to frame the slightest blow. With such dominance and cumulative score to go up, it was essential for Chelsea not to delay too long against Thibaut Courtois. “Everyone wants an early goal in every match. (…) We will try to use the advantage to get inside their heads and sow doubts,” Tuchel said before kick-off. Message received from Mason Mount, author of the opening at 15 minutes.
Chelsea wasted no time even in the second half to shake up the goals, with this header from a corner by Antonio Rüdiger (51st). The catastrophic scenario then made itself felt for Real in the meantime, when Marcos Alonso thought of bringing the score to 3-0 (63rd). The video assistant referee (VAR) gives the change to the Madrid team, due to an offensive hand. But he has nothing to say about the goal from Timo Werner, who returned in excellent form in the best time (75th).
Modric and Rodrygo brought Real Madrid back to life
There is something irrational in this team of Real, the one that was even overcome for an hour in the second leg of the round of 16 against PSG. But its great players know how to get out of the woods when needed. If Karim Benzema, previously upset by the crossbar, played his role as a providential man by taking advantage of a big mistake by Antonio Rüdiger to beat Édouard Mendy with a powerful header (96th), Real was replaced by two other men: Rodrygo, second scorer minutes later came into play, but above all Luka Modric, author of a sumptuous winger as a decisive pass (80 °). It was this 3-1 (4-4 aggregate) that revived Real Madrid and caused extra time.
Last season Chelsea, future champions of Europe, destroyed Real Madrid’s dreams of a semi-final final. The time for revenge has come. It is the tenth time in the last 12 editions of the competition that the Spanish club has reached the last four. The next opponent will be Manchester City or Atlético de Madrid, for a place in the final. We remind you that it will take place on May 28 at the Stade de France. For Karim Benzema, the planets could be aligned.