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Champions League: Real Madrid advance to the semi-finals after Karim Benzema sinks a brave Chelsea side in extra time.

Real Madrid held off a stunning Chelsea comeback to win an enthralling Champions League quarter-final 5-4 on aggregate on Tuesday, thanks to Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

At the Santiago Bernabeu, Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger, and Timo Werner put Europe’s reigning champions on the verge of an incredible victory, erasing Madrid’s 3-1 lead from the first leg.

But Modric, 36, another moment of genius to add to the very best of his glittering career, a sumptuous pass with the outside of his right foot setting up Rodrygo to volley in and sending a nerve-shredding contest into extra time.

Benzema stepped forward to claim the winner after scoring a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, capitalizing on a Rudiger slip to head in, a 3-2 defeat enough to send Madrid into the semi-finals.

« You can never think anything is lost at the Bernabeu, » said Carlo Ancelotti afterwards. « I can’t explain it but there is a magic in this stadium that helps you. »

At the final whistle, Modric and Benzema fell to the ground, their combined 70 years of experience belying two more vintage contributions that have propelled Real Madrid to a 14th European Cup.

In the last four, they will either face Manchester City or Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea came in rejuvenated after putting six past Southampton in the Premier League last weekend, after being thrashed by Brentford and then outplayed by Madrid in the first leg.

They needed a « fantastic script, » as Thomas Tuchel said on Monday, to pull off this comeback, and they certainly delivered, with their only flaw being their inability to stop Modric and Benzema from doing what they’ve done so many times before.

« We were unlucky, that’s why we’re disappointed, » said Tuchel. « We got beaten by pure individual quality and our own mistakes. We deserved to go through. »

Mount’s 15th-minute goal set the tone, with Madrid immediately tense and Chelsea given early hope.

Mateo Kovacic had played an important role in the build-up, but it was Ruben Loftus-quick Cheek’s pass into Werner that caught Madrid off guard, the German steering the ball into Mount’s path with his knee, who advanced and fired past Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea ruled for 20 minutes, while Madrid fought back. Reece James was doing an excellent job of containing Vinicius Junior and preventing Madrid from fleeing.

Chelsea take command

Chelsea’s authority was even more pronounced early in the second half, and they had a second goal within minutes, Rudiger rising high at the back post to head in a corner. Benzema, Modric, and Toni Kroos tried to wrestle back control, but Chelsea’s authority was even more pronounced early in the second half, and they had a second goal within minutes, Rudiger rising high at the back post to head in a corner.

Madrid briefly exerted after their lead was lost, with the crowd entering the game. Marcos Alonso pivoted around Dani Carvajal’s sliding tackle and slammed into the top corner as Chelsea were celebrating a third goal.

Madrid appeared to be beaten, and the stadium appeared to be deserted, but the referee was ready. The Bernabeu erupted when VAR noticed Alonso had control with his hand and the decision was reversed.

But it was brief, Chelsea coming again in the 73rd minute as Kovacic slid through Werner, who coolly slalomed past two sliding Madrid defenders and sent a deflected finish dribbling into the corner.

Before a wild contest turned back on Modric’s moment of magic, a disappointed Kroos was taken off. Modric stroked a 30-yard pass to the right of the penalty area with the outside of his foot, which was volleyed in by Rodrygo, who had come on as a substitute.

Chelsea appeared to have the better chance of grabbing a late winner, and Kai Havertz nodded across the six-yard box, but Christian Pulisic shot wide.

Madrid found another gear in extra time, with Vinicius finally finding space to tear into. Rudiger should have easily cleared his floated cross, but the defender slipped, allowing Benzema just enough space to guide his header in.

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