Real Madrid held off a stunning Chelsea comeback to win a thrilling 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 placed Europe’s reigning champions on the verge of an incredible triumph, erasing Madrid’s 3-1 lead from the first leg.
But Modric, 36, came up with another stroke of brilliance to add to his illustrious career, an exquisite pass with the outside of his right foot setting up Rodrygo to volley in and pushing a nerve-wracking match into extra time.
Benzema moved up 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.
When the final whistle blew, Modric and Benzema collapsed to the ground, their combined 70 years of experience belying two more brilliant contributions that have propelled Real Madrid to a 14th European Cup.
In the last four, they will face either Manchester City or Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea came in revitalized after putting six past Southampton in the Premier League last weekend, after being hammered by Brentford and then outplayed by Madrid in the first leg last week.
To pull off this comeback, Thomas Tuchel remarked on Monday that they’d need a “great screenplay,” and they certainly delivered, with their main flaw being their inability to stop Modric and Benzema from doing what they’ve done so many times before.
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-fast Cheek’s cross into Werner that took Madrid off guard, the German directing the ball into Mount’s path with his knee, who advanced and fired past 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.