Chelsea looked set for one of the best European nights in club history, but were denied at the Bernabeu by Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema, who sent the Spanish giants into the Champions League semi-finals.
Thomas Tuchel’s men entered Tuesday night’s clash aiming to overcome a mammoth 3-1 deficit from the first leg.
The Madrid midfield had waltzed through the game at Stamford Bridge, and Tuchel adjusted accordingly. A back four, with Ruben-Loftus Cheek added to the midfield, made all the difference for Chelsea, who played like the home team for much of the tie.
Chelsea played with aggression and purpose, and spent much of the game in the Madrid half. Mason Mount’s goal early on gave them hope, and for large portions of the first half Real Madrid looked like they were waiting for the whistle.
If they were, it didn’t help them much. Antonio Rudiger headed Chelsea level shortly into the second half, and the tie was balanced. Real Madrid began to play with more urgency in response, but the visitors already had the momentum.
Marcos Alonso had a goal ruled out for the cruelest of handball calls, but there was no questioning Timo Werner’s play as he coolly slotted Chelsea in front. However, Madrid had grown into the game, which had a breathless, end-to-end feel.
A superb Luka Modric pass found Rodrygo’s run, to repeat the 3-1 scoreline from the first leg, and the game carried on into extra time.
From then on, only one man was going to make the difference. Benzema headed Madrid back into the lead on aggregate, from a Vinicius Jr. assist.
Chelsea saw chance after chance go begging, and despite a strong performance, ultimately lost their grip on the trophy they lifted in 2021. Meanwhile, Madrid’s pursuit of European crown No.14 rolls on.
MADRID — Benzema (Vinicius) — 96th min.
MADRID — Rodrygo (Modric) — 80th min.
CHELSEA — Werner (Kovacic) — 75th min.
CHELSEA — Rudiger (Mount) — 51st min.
CHELSEA — Mount (Werner) — 15th min.
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea as-it-happened: commentary and highlights from Champions League
Full-time: That’s it! The hosts have done it! The defending champions are out!
122nd min: Dani Ceballos, who apparently came on for Vinicius Jr. five minutes ago, wins a free kick in Chelsea’ half, which elicits a loud cheer from the crowd. The same thing happens when Courtois catches a long ball from deep. Chelsea come forward again. Time is running out for the defending champions.
120th min: Chelsea have a corner. Mendy is up for it and chaos ensues. The ball is out to Ziyech, who hammers back towards goal. It falls to Jorginho, who snaps at the ball and it’s wide of the near post. Heated conversations follow as Thiago Silva is unhappy with Benzema for sitting down, and there’s a crowd around the incident. The hosts will be happy with the wasted time. Three minutes added on.
118th min: The seconds are counting down here, and there are two minutes left for the Blues, plus anything the Polish official adds on. Rudiger is up front now.
117th min: Thomas Tuchel has picked up a booking, as has Cesar Azpilicueta, but the action is happening on the pitch. Chelsea work the ball into Real’s area, and Ziyech shoots from the left. It’s a rasping, rising effort, but Courtois is equal to it, and palms it away. It’s a scramble from a follow up corner, the ball lands in a crowd of bodies, it seems to sit there for ages as Jorginho can’t find the space to shoot. Eventually it’s cleared, and Mount heads off target from a teasing Reece James cross.
111 min: Thibaut Courtois is a cool, cool man. Chelsea continue to press, and the ball is worked back to him. He’s standing a metre in front of his left post as Havertz bears down on him at full speed. As the attacker slides in, the Belgian pulls off a cool Cruyff turn, and carries on.
108th min: More changes from Thomas Tuchel, who spent the break waving around a very large tactics board. Courtois is forced into action as Havertz seizes on uncertainty between the ‘keeper and Carvajal, but the former Chelsea man gets rid of the danger just in time.
Half-time ET: Take a breath, we’re not done yet.
104th min: Camavinga fires over after turning over possession in Chelsea’s third. The home side’s substitutes have made a real difference, and their energy has helped the Spanish side cope with Chelsea.
101st min: Thomas Tuchel makes a change, with Kante off for Ziyech. Real Madrid are back in the driving seat, but Chelsea are still coming, and there could well be more goals left in this game.
96th min: GOAL!
It had to be that man! Chelsea give the ball away and Real Madrid are able to set Vinicus away down the left. He drives in, along the byline, towards goal, with the ball on his right. He lifts it into the area, and Benzema meets unchallenged, with Rudiger slipping. Benzema heads home, and the Bernabéu erupts.
92nd min: We’re back underway. The atmosphere is electric, and play continues as it left off, with both teams looking to force the issue.
End of 90 mins: It’s been a breathless second leg and, after 180 minutes, the teams can’t be separated. Extra time beckons.
94th min: Pulisic with another chance! That’s his second chance of injury time. It comes from a Chelsea free kick, this time on the left. Alonso passes infield to Reece James, who lifts the ball into the area from deep. It’s nodded down into Pulisic’s path and it looks a chance to score, but Carvajal is on hand to stop him, and the chance goes begging.
93rd min: Four minutes of added time, as both teams continue looking for a winner. Pulisic has a chance as Rudiger flicks a free kick into his path. All he can do is swing his left shin at it, and it’s high over the bar.
89th min: Lucas Vasquez has come on for Nacho, because what this game needs is more chaos.
86th min: It’s been end to end, and both teams are pushing for a winner here. Pulisic is on for Werner.
80th min : GOAL!!!!!!
Madrid manage it! Rodrygo equalises! Real have the ball on the left, and it’s an outside of the boot cross from Modric who lifts the ball into the pass of Rodrygo. Running in behind the defender, he has to finish first time, and he does. He lifts his right boot and sidefoots home. The Bernabéu erupts.
79th min: It’s kitchen sink time for the hosts, who are looking to mirror the 3-1 scoreline of the first leg. Marcole is on for Mendy, and Casemiro is off for Rodrygo. Havertz heads well from a corner, forcing a good save, low down, by Courtois.
75th min: GOAL!
Chelsea are ahead, and this time it will count! It’s patient play from Chelsea who keep the ball in midfield, on the left. It’s good movement as Werner comes in off the left and runs in behind the Madrid backline. Kovacic slides him in and the German keeps his head. He’s on his left, but cuts in onto his right and sits down the defender. He has to deal with another white shirt, and Courtois coming out to smother, but he keeps his cool and gets his shot away under pressure. It takes a deflection, but trickles over the line.
74th min: Carlo Ancelotti is the first manager to blink, as Toni Kroos comes off for Camavinga. The German has never looked entirely up to the pace of the game.
70th min: It’s end to end now. Rudiger is forced into a last ditch tackle, sliding in to stop Vinicius breaking into Chelsea’s area, and then Valverde gives away a free kick on the halfway line to stop Chelsea breaking.
68th min: Real Madrid go close, and it’s almost a double gut punch for the visitors. It’s Mendy again, this time going high as he stands up a cross for Benzema. He rises high and nods the ball back across goal, but it bounces off the bar rather than creeping under it.
66th min: Chelsea think they’re ahead. Alonso is in the area, on the left. The ball pops up and he lashes it home on his right. It’s a powerful strike, and it’s a surprise the net held. The former Madrid man is celebrating, as is Thomas Tuchel, but after a significant VAR review, the goal is disallowed for handball. It brushed his hand as it popped up. The decision brings the loudest cheer of the night from the home crowd.
63rd min: A reminder of where things stand, there are no away goals in UEFA competitions from this season onwards, so even with Real Madrid scoring three in the first leg, we’re all square. As it stands, we’re heading to extra time, and potentially penalties. Fede Valverde unleashes a cannon of a shot as he runs onto a bouncing ball from the right, but he’s always leaning back to hit, and Mendy isn’t troubled as it rises over his bar.
61st min: Real Madrid have managed to inject pace into their game, and their heroics from last round mean they can’t be counted out just yet. They work it well, and Mendy drills a ball across the face of goal that none of his teammates are in position to attack. Any touch would have been a goal.
56th min: Real Madrid haven’t reacted too badly, and there are claims from the crowd for a penalty as Reece James diverts a dropping ball, just as Benzema shapes to shoot it. The hosts have won a free kick in Chelsea’s third, and things feel much more urgent from them than they have so far. Mendy saves from Kroos’ shot, the first save he’s had to make.
Chelsea are level! They force a corner. Alonso fires towards goal, and after it’s blocked James does the same. It goes wide and a corner is given, although Modric insists he doesn’t touch it. Mount goes across to the right and takes an outswinging corner. It’s a textbook header from Rudiger who rises highest and directs the ball back across goal. Courtois, moving in the opposite direction, can’t react, and the ball nestles in the bottom corner.
50th min: Chelsea have carried on as they left off, with a lively start to the second half. No changes to the lineups, and no change to the pattern of play so far.
Halftime: A Chelsea free kick comes to nothing, and that’s the last meaningful action of the half. Real Madrid look like they might threaten the Chelsea goal, but the half ends with Havertz tracking back to dispossess Modric in the Chelsea half. Chelsea are still behind on aggregate, but unless Real Madrid can change things up after the restart, the Blues will be confident that the tie is theirs. Real Madrid may consider themselves the kings of Europe, but Chelsea took the crown last season, and they’re looking to do the same at the Bernabéu this evening.
44th min: Loftus-Cheek is down briefly after falling awkwardly from a shoulder barge. He’s back on his feet for the last few minutes of the half. Carlo Ancelotti’s side still look second best here, and the Italian will be wanting to hear the half time whistle soon.
42nd min: It’s a little better from the home side in the last few minutes, who have managed to get their foot on the ball and find space in the Chelsea shape where they were struggling to earlier.
36th min: It’s mostly the Chelsea fans that can be heard at the moment. The home fans are whistling as Chelsea make themselves at home. The yellows shirts are passing the ball around in front of the Real Madrid defence, and feel comfortable. Rudiger is the latest player to have a shot from distance, after Kovacic and Thiago Silva earlier.
31st min: Real Madrid’s midfield was on top in the first leg, but the change in Chelsea’s shape is ensuring the away side dominate the middle of the pitch. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s surprise inclusion is really helping in that regard.
25th min: It very much feels like Chelsea are in control of this match at the moment, with the hosts being pushed back surely more than Carlo Ancelotti will be comfortable with. Thomas Tuchel will want his team to make the most of this positive momentum though. A Benzema shot from outside the area deflects over for a corner, as if Chelsea needed a reminder of what could happen if they lose focus for a moment
Chelsea have halved their deficit! They’re rewarded for their front footed start when a loose ball bounces off Werner into Mount’s path. Dead centre, edge of the 18 yard box, he opens his body up and places the ball into the corner, to Courtois’ left. The ‘keeper was never getting a hand to it.
14th min: Chelsea, who have been pressing well, force a turnover from Valverde in Real Madrid’s area. They fail to capitalise, winning a corner that Rudiger heads over, but their press looks promising. On the other hand, they’ve already needed some moments of quality one on one defending to stop Real Madrid attacking them on the counter, and it’ll be a hard ask to do this all game.
12th min: A poor minute for Reece James, as Real Madrid manage their first spell of settled possession. The Chelsea right back tries to see the ball out for a goal kick, but Vinicius steals it from him and puts in a cross. It’s worked back to left of centre and the defender is stood up against Vinicius, who knocks the ball past him and bursts into the area. James brings him down and gets booked.
9th min: Chelsea’s best moment so far has seen Timo Werner carry the ball into the area, but Caseimro was round on the cover to stop him getting through on goal. Chelsea are playing with aggression, but Real Madrid look a threat on the counter.
4th min: It’s been a bright start, and Chelsea have put pressure on early, but no breakthrough so far, as Kovacic has to be alert as Valverde almost gets onto a pass into space on the right.
1 min from kickoff: The teams are out, the anthem has played, and the stadium is absolutely packed. There doesn’t look to be a single empty seat in the house, as the teams line up for kick off.
3 mins from kickoff: The teams are lining up in the tunnel now, and that famous anthem will be blaring in seconds.
10 mins from kickoff: The teams are going through their final preparations ahead of kick off. Not long to go now.
30 mins from kickoff: It’s not that much of a surprise that Tuchel has changed his lineup, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek starting will have raised a few eyebrows. It likely means a move away from a back three. Werner starting up front isn’t too surprising after his promising display against Southampton.
60 mins from kickoff: Real Madrid revealed their team news an hour ago, so both teams are in. Carlo has gone heavy in midfield.
65 mins from kickoff: Team news is out for the visitors, and it looks like a potential change of system for Thomas Tuchel.
70 mins from kickoff: The Blues are in place at the Bernabéu. Teams news shortly.
2 hours from kickoff: The Real hitman has been on fire recently. Will Chelsea be able to stop him?
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea lineups
Defender Eder Militao misses out due to yellow card accumulation. Former Chelsea man Eden Hazard also doesn’t play after having leg surgery, while striker Luka Jovic makes the bench despite an ongoing ankle problem. A recurring back problem keeps Isco out, while Ferlandy Mendy returns from fatigue induced rest.
The Real Madrid team is largely as expected, with Fede Valverde likely to provide a more industrious presence on the right.
Real Madrid lineup (4-3-3): Courtois (GK) — Carvajal, Nacho, Alaba, Mendy — Modric, Casemiro, Kroos — Valverde, Vinicius Jr., Benzema
Real Madrid subs (12): Lunin, Toni Fuidias, Asensio, Marcelo, Jovic, Vasquez, Bale, Ceballos, Rodrygo, Mariano, Camavinga, Rafa Marin
Romelu Lukaku misses the match with an Achilles problem, while Cesar Azpilicueta starts on the bench after a COVID-19 induced absence. Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) and Ben Chilwell (ACL surgery) miss out, and Ross Barkley is unavailable due to illness.
It’s a reshuffle from Thomas Tuchel, with the lineup suggesting a move to a back four. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the surprise inclusion in midfield.
Chelsea lineup (4-3-2-1): Mendy (GK) — James, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Alonso — Loftus-Cheek, Kante, Kovacic — Mount, Havertz — Werner
Chelsea subs (11): Kepa, Bettinelli, Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Christensen, Sarr, Jorginho, Saul, Pulisic, Vale, Ziyech