Real Madrid and the Champions League is a match like no other, and Chelsea learned that on Tuesday night as Los Blancos came back from the dead to eliminate the current European and world champions.
Having trailed 3-0 on the night, Los Blancos lost 3-2 to claim a 5-4 aggregate win.
A 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge a week earlier had Carlo Ancelotti’s side firmly in the driving seat coming into the second leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but the Blues stormed the Spanish capital and caught the LaLiga Santander leaders cold in the first half.
Mason Mount put Chelsea ahead on the night with a fine finish after a quarter of an hour, and Los Blancos failed to react. Thomas Tuchel had said the tie wasn’t still alive after the first leg, and his words appeared to have worked as his players looked hungrier than their opponents.
That lead was doubled via Antonio Rudiger early in the second half, though the German scored after a corner that was wrongly awarded. Marcos Alonso thought he had made it 3-0 on the night, but his goal was correctly annulled as the ball had struck his hand before he finished into the top corner.
That third goal did come through Timo Werner, though, putting Real Madrid on the verge of elimination.
But Los Blancos aren’t a club that lie down and accept their fate, less so in Europe. They persisted, and a moment of magic from Luka Modric teed up Rodrygo Goes to level on aggregate. The Croatian pulled out a stunning pass with the outside of his foot for the Brazilian to finish brilliantly.
Then, into extra time, it was hard to see any outcome other than a home win. Karim Benzema headed home on the end of a cross from Vinicius Junior, and from then the writing was on the wall.
Chelsea pressed as extra time went on, and they piled late pressure onto the 13-time winners, but Ancelotti’s side had enough to get themselves over the line.
Real Madrid joined fellow Spanish side Villarreal in the final four. Atletico Madrid may still join them.