Heroic Karim Benzema! With a goal in extra time, the French center-forward, author of a hat-trick in the first leg (3-1), qualified Real Madrid for the semi-finals of the Champions League after an epic scenario against the defending champion, Chelsea, who touched his remontada with his finger before flinching (2-3, aggregate score 5-4). In the other match, Villarreal managed the feat of eliminating Bayern in Munich by snatching a 1-1 draw thanks to Samu Chukwueze two minutes from the end of regulation time, after their 1-0 first leg victory in Spain.
Benzema bends Chelsea in extra time
Already author of a hat-trick in the first leg, the inevitable Benzema allowed Real, pushed to their limits by the Blues, to snatch their qualification for the last four with a narrow 3-2 defeat, an insufficient gap for Chelsea, beaten 3-1 in the first leg. Did the “White House” already believe it was in the semi-finals after the first round? All preconceived scenarios were shattered at the Santiago-Bernabéu stadium where, in a disheveled encounter, Chelsea led 3-0, close to qualification, before being forced into extra time and folding in front of Benzema.
The French international, more than ever a contender for the Ballon d’Or, emerged from the head in the 96th minute of play to save the people of Madrid, long tossed at home and who had only snatched the extension thanks to a goal from the Brazilian Rodrygo, served by a bright opening from Luka Modric (80th).
A look back at Benzema’s hat-trick against Chelsea
Champions League Real Madrid / Chelsea
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Chelsea could have led 3-0
It is a major disappointment for Chelsea, who thought they had done the hardest part by scoring three goals and lost their European crown at the end of the suspense. In a complicated extra-sporting context, with British sanctions targeting Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who put the club up for sale, Thomas Tuchel’s team had the merit of refusing elimination, but the exit is all the more so. bitter.
Dominating at the start of the match, the Blues quickly took the advantage through Mason Mount (15th) then Antonio Rüdiger (51st), scorer on a corner which should not have been granted. And the Blues even briefly glimpsed the qualification on the 3-0 goal from Timo Werner, who put the entire Madrid defense in the wind by transplanting in the axis before concluding in force (75th).
Real can dream of a record 14th European title
But Real did not give up and the stainless Luka Modric, 36, served the incoming Rodrygo, who brought the two clubs tied (80th) in both matches. Extension, therefore, and new feat from Benzema: the Frenchman, who had found the crossbar (66th), this time scored with a diving header his twelfth goal in this C1, the seventh in three matches, synonymous with qualification for the last square where Real will challenge either Atlético Madrid, its neighbor, or Manchester City, opposed on Wednesday.
Enough to allow the “White House” to continue to seek a fourteenth Champions League, an absolute record, and “KB9” to dream, at 33, of the Ballon d’Or.
Villarreal tremendous self-sacrifice against Bayern
In the other quarter-final second leg, Bayern, German champions, were eliminated by the modest team of Villarreal, victorious 1-0 in the first leg and tremendous self-sacrifice to snatch a draw synonymous with qualification (1- 1) Tuesday at the Allianz-Arena, with a late goal from Samuel Chukwueze (88th). This is a final sanction for the winner of the 2020 Champions League, too irregular this season under the orders of his new coach Julian Nagelsmann.
On the other hand, it is a memorable achievement for the “Yellow Submarine”, a club from a small town of 50,000 inhabitants which is once again inviting itself to the table of the greats of Europe, as in 2006. At home, the Bavarians circled in vain around the Spanish surface (24 attempts to 4!), despite a goal from the inevitable Robert Lewandowski. The Pole opened the scoring with a low shot with the help of the post (52nd), his thirteenth goal this season in C1.
But Unai Emery’s team did not deviate from their game plan, defending stubbornly and multiplying the banderillas on the counter, until the final thrust: a Chukwueze raid concluded in force against Manuel Neuer (88th ) to open the doors to the semi-finals for Villarreal, either against Liverpool or against Benfica, who meet on Wednesday.