Benzema to the rescue as Real Madrid knock Chelsea out of Champions League
Karim Benzema was once again Real Madrid’s hero, as they beat Chelsea in the Champions League quarter final, despite the Blues best efforts in an exhilarating game.
Benzema scored a hat-trick against PSG in the previous round, to complete a brilliant comeback, and then scored his second in-a-row in the competition last week in the first leg of their quarter final with Chelsea.
However, it looked for much of the game on Tuesday that the striker and his teammates would be on the wrong end of a comeback this time.
Fresh from battering Southampton 6-0 at the weekend, Thomas Tuchel’s side had early chances through Timo Werner and Antonio Rudiger.
It only took till the 13th minute for Mason Mount to get the English side right back in the tie, as his tidy finish made him only the third Englishman, after Alan Smith and Danny Welbeck, to score against Real at the Bernabeu in the competition.
In the first leg Vinicius Junior caused the European champion’s defence all sorts of bother but, other than forcing Reece James into an early challenge that earned him a yellow card, the young Brazilian was very quiet this time round.
Los Blancos went into the break without having tested Edouard Mendy in the first half, something that couldn’t have happened all too often.
Chelsea again started the second half the better team and Rudiger headed them level from a 51st minute corner, although the hosts will be annoyed that it shouldn’t have been a corner.
In previous years it would have still meant the hosts were ahead on away goals, having scored three at Stamford Bridge, but that rule was removed ahead of this season.
The away fans were then sent into pandemonium when it looked like Marcos Alonso had put them into the lead for the first time in the tie.
Alonso rifled the ball past Thibaut Courtois, after getting bit of a lucky bounce, only for VAR to rule that it had flicked up off his hand in the build-up.
Benzema finally had his best chance of the night just minutes after, as he headed a cross against the bar, and over, as the game really came to life.
In the 75th minute Chelsea were ahead in the tie, as Werner collected the ball from Mateo Kovacic on the left, drifted inside Dani Carvajal and slotted into the back of the net.
The game took perhaps its biggest twist of the night just five minutes later however, as substitute Rodrygo scored just two minutes after coming on.
It was all down to Luka Modric’s incredible ball, as the Croatian played a sumptuous ball over the top with the outside of his right boot and Rodrygo got in place to volley it past Mendy from inside the area.
Christian Pulisic had the perfect chance to win the game in injury time, as he somehow missed the target after a free kick was flicked down to him inside the box, and instead the game went to extra time.
Of course, it was Benzema who made the big contribution in the added 30 minutes, as Real pounced on mistakes in the Chelsea defence, for the first time on the night.
N’Golo Kante was dispossessed in midfield and the ball was passed to Vinicius, the Brazilian chipped a cross towards Benzema and Rudiger slipped at the same time, allowing a free header for the French striker, who headed past Mendy.
Kai Havertz had the perfect chance to equalise in the 117th minute, when he managed to guide a free header, from James’ cross, high and wide of the goal.
A minute later Jorginho again had the perfect opportunity to take it to penalties. Mendy came up for a corner and it was aimed towards the keeper, the ball was cleared but just outside the area, when Hakim Ziyech played it back into the mixer, Jorginho slashed at his chance and put it wide.
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