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Highlights from the UEFA Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Chelsea

The second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final between Real Madrid and Chelsea can actually be summed up in just one line: Chelsea were in it until they weren’t.

The side from London, carrying a deficit of two goals from the first leg, got their noses ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu. Hopes were up when Mason Mount gave them the lead in the first half and those hopes became realistic aspirations when Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner put the Blues in the lead of the tie with 15 minutes left on the clock.

However, those dreams didn’t last long, as Luka Modric, even at his grand old stage, produced a gem of a cross from the outside of his boot to which Rodrygo got his head and restored parity for the home side. It was then up to Madrid’s dependable number 9 Karim Benzema who got the job done once again, this time in thrilling fashion in extra time. Benzema had also netted two goals for Los Blancos in the first leg as they marched on to the semi-final of the Champions League.

Without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at the main talking points from what is arguably the most entertaining fixture in the world:

 

CHELSEA DISPLAYED INTENT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING

Even before the referee blew his whistle to begin the second leg of the quarter-final between the two sides in Madrid, Chelsea knew what they had to do – get the first goal. The Blues had failed to do the needful in front of their own fans a week ago as Karim Benzema put Real Madrid in the driving seat with two goals.

In the second leg, however, Chelsea drew first blood after the first 15 minutes. Mason Mount was on the receiving end of slick, one-touching movement and passing from the Blues and finished it off with a swerved effort from outside the penalty area with plenty of aplomb.

While Tuchel’s side has a tendency of dropping deep after taking the lead in a tie, Chelsea had to push for more and they weren’t afraid of being caught on the content by the 13-time Champions League winners. They pressed high in the pitch and had nine shots on target compared to Real Madrid’s three in the first 45 minutes.

The diamond formation in midfield involving Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante and former Real Madrid player Mateo Kovacic worked like a treat for the defending European champions. They also went into the second half with plenty of steam and momentum and Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner put them into the lead of the tie for the first time.

 

VAR CONTROVERSY STRUCK AGAIN

A few minutes after the second half began, Real Madrid seemed to go into the backfoot once again as former academy graduate Marcos Alonso struck home to make it 0-3 on the night for Chelsea. Alonso, who had spent 11 years with Real Madrid as a youngster, seemed to have given The Blues the lead of the tie in stunning fashion.

However, controversy struck soon as Marcos Alonso was adjudged to have controlled the ball with his hand before unleashing his right-footed strike from close range. This decision infuriated the Chelsea players, fans, and manager. Even the injured Ben Chilwell couldn’t hide his frustration at the decision and tweeted, “The hand ball rule…”

Things went from bad to worse when Karim Benzema struck the crossbar with a header only minutes after Alonso’s goal was disallowed for handball.

 

KARIM BENZEMA AND LUKA MODRIC ARE STILL GOING AS STRONG AS EVER

With 25 minutes remaining on the clock and Chelsea 0-3 up at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid were staring at a quarter-final exit from the UEFA Champions League. However, Los Blancos are no strangers to resilient comebacks. The like of Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro have instigated several stunning comebacks in this famous competition over the last decade and the old warhorses came alive in the final stages of the game.

Luka Modric, defying his age, was the first to stand up as he dictated proceedings and unleashed a delightful cross from the outside of his shoe to find Rodrygo in the box. The Brazilian winger tucked the header home from close range and forced extra time in the tie.

It was Karim Benzema, one of the standout performers, who followed suit. Benzema had already scored five goals in the last two Champions League knockout matches against Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain and the French forward then decided the game in extra time with a splendid goal. He was found by Vinicius Jr in the 96th minute and headed the ball past Edouard Mendy to secure yet another stunning comeback.

 

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