Chelsea’s reign as European champions came to an agonising end despite beating Real Madrid 3-2 on a night of high drama at the Bernabeu Stadium.
In a Champions League epic, Mason Mount’s wonderful finish and Antonio Rudiger’s powerful header wiped out Real’s 3-1 first-leg advantage and brought the quarter-final tie level (3-3) in Spain’s capital.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were outstanding throughout and Timo Werner’s clever finish from an angle put them ahead for the first time on aggregate (4-3) and within sight of a place in the semi-finals.
But substitute Rodrygo – after a stunning pass by Luka Modric – forced extra time with a volleyed finish before Karim Benzema, a hat-trick hero in the first leg at Stamford Bridge six days earlier, headed the decisive goal in the 96th minute to send Real through 5-4 on aggregate.
Benzema, who had earlier headed against the bar on a rollercoaster night, was unmarked when he scored to break Chelsea’s hearts after Rudiger slipped inside the box.
Even after what turned out to be the clincher, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Jorginho went close to forcing a penalty shootout.
In the end Chelsea, who played superbly, were made to pay for their first-leg performance as Tuchel’s side fell just short of producing one of the great comebacks in the competition.
Many of Chelsea’s players slumped to the ground at the end of 120 gripping minutes after pushing record 13-time winners Real – who will face Manchester City or Atletico Madrid in the last four – all the way. (BBC)