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Immediate reaction: Real Madrid 2-3 Chelsea (5-4 aggregate)

Real Madrid reach the semi-finals, barely.

Real Madrid v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid 2-3 Chelsea (Rodrygo Goes, Karim Benzema). Here is the immediate reaction to a crazy game. Still to come: press conference details, player ratings and the ManagingMadrid podcast.


Real Madrid advanced to the semi-finals in the Champions despite a 3-2 loss on the night and being completely outplayed for much of the match.

Carlo Ancelotti went with an unchanged lineup from the team that won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge last week. Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, put Reece James up against Vinicius and added Ruben Loftus-Cheek to the midfield.

Chelsea, the mistakes of last week ringing in their ears, brought the game to Real Madrid from kick off. Los Blancos were clearly set up to play on the break, but failed to effectively challenge Chelsea for possession in their own half and never looked in control of proceedings as result.

The Blues scored the all important first goal after 14 minutes. Mason Mount played through on goal after David Alaba was dragged out of position by the run of Kai Havertz.

The opener gave Chelsea a huge amount of confidence and aside from some sparse bright moments from an isolated Karim Benzema and Vinicius, the home support had little to cheer in the first half. The score line left Ancelotti’s team in a difficult position at halftime; either come out in the second half more aggressive or address their problems and continue to play on the counter. It seemed like Carlo opted for the latter, though it will be impossible to tell as Chelsea needed only five minutes to level the score on aggregate.

Some bright spells defending in the air were completely undone when Antonio Rudiger powered pass a halpless Luka Modric to power home Chelsea’s second goal of the night.

Chelsea had climbed their mountain, perhaps a little earlier than they anticipated as Real began to get back into the game again. Marcos Alonso thought he’d put the away team in front in the 61st minute, rifling home a rebound after his intial shot was blocked by Carvajal. Benzema then hit the bar up the other end of the pitch and came within a couple feet of a tap in a few minutes later.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Timo Werner found himself as free as a bird at the heart of Real Madrid’s defense. He skipped past a sliding Mendy and popped home a tight finish to put Chelsea 3-0 up and ahead on aggerate.

There could be no complaints about the team looking destined for a semi-final spot. In a different way to that Ajax debacle in 2019, Real had been completely outclassed and, yet, were still only one goal from being level. Carlo rolled the dice, bringing on Rodrygo for Casemiro. Two minutes later, the Brazilian finished superbly from an excellent Luka Modric assist.

A breathless back and forth rounded off the final 10 minutes, one that Courtois offered some inspired saves to drag a poor collective performance into extra time.

Real put in their best showing of the match so far in that first period of extra time, Eduardo Camavinga bringing a familiar energy to midfield off the bench. In the 96th minute, the Frenchman won the ball back deep in Chelsea’s half and put Vinicius through out wide. The cross wasn’t anything inspired but a slip from Rudiger was all Benzema needed to score his fourth goal of the tie.

Chelsea had more than enough chances to bring the game to penalties, or even win tie overall, in the second period. Real Madrid rode their luck alot and will be thankfully they were able to establish the away lead they did. Nonetheless, some of the substitute appearance were really inspired and Madrid some real resilience to drag something out of nothing after going 3-0 down. They won’t be easily beat in the semi-finals, but alot of work needs to be done if Los Blancos are realistically thinking about winning the competition.