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Real Madrid hold on after brave Chelsea fightback in Champions League

Real Madrid had done little in attack, but just after the goal, Reece James made a timely challenge to block Karim Benzema.

IANS | New Delhi |

Real Madrid qualified for the semifinals of the Champions League despite having one foot out of the door after a brave Chelsea fightback in the second leg of their quarterfinal on Tuesday night.

Chelsea led 3-0 on the night and were 10 minutes away from going through after losing the first leg 3-1 before Rodrygo took the game into extra-time where Karim Benzema scored the goal that took Real Madrid through on a dramatic night in the Santiago Bernabeu.

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said after his side’s 3-1 defeat in Stamford Bridge a week ago that his side had no chance of getting back into the tie, but it seems the coach was bluffing as his side tore into Real Madrid.

Seventeen minutes into the game Mason Mount ran onto Timo Werner’s through ball before running into the Madrid area and beating Thibaut Courtois with a confident finish, Xinhua reports. With no away goals rule, that opened the tie up completely and Chelsea looked increasingly confident, pushing Real Madrid deeper and deeper as the half progressed.

The reigning champions’ second goal came four minutes into the second half when Antonio Rudiger climbed highest to head Mount’s corner beyond Courtois’ reach to level the tie.

Real Madrid had done little in attack, but just after the goal, Reece James made a timely challenge to block Karim Benzema.

Benzema then set up Fede Valverde, who fired just wide, before Marcos Alonso had the ball in the net only for the VAR to rule it out for handball.

Werner did make it 3-0 on the night in the 75th minute, latching onto Matteo Kovacic’s pass before beating Casemiro and David Alaba and unleashing a shot that took a deflection on its way into the goal.

That made it 4-3 to Chelsea on aggregate, but Rodrygo frustrated their comeback with a cool finish after a move involving Marcelo and Luka Modric in the 80th minute to take the tie into extra time.

Six minutes into the first period of extra time, Vinicius Jr and Benzema finally combined effectively with Vinicius after Chelsea gave the ball away allowing the winger to cross for the striker to score his 12th European goal of the campaign.

The last 15 minutes saw Chelsea try and throw everything forward with Ziyech seeing a shot blocked from a tight angle, Jorginho seeing a shot blocked by Dani Ceballos and Christian Pulisic heading wide when he should have hit the target as Real Madrid held on.