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Tuchel’s Blues heartbroken as Benzema slams in extra time to secure semi-final spot

FORGET the Munich miracle or the 10-point comeback against Barcelona in 2012.

Because that was Chelsea‘s biggest performance in Europe, a night of pure gory brilliance Thomas Tuchels heroes.

Karim Benzema ended brave Chelsea's defense in the Champions League

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Karim Benzema ended brave Chelsea’s defense in the Champions LeaguePhoto credit: Reuters
Sub Rodrygo made a late save for Real Madrid to send the tie into overtime

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Sub Rodrygo made a late save for Real Madrid to send the tie into overtimePhoto credit: Reuters
Benzema then headed the winner home to break Chelsea hearts

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Benzema then headed the winner home to break Chelsea heartsPhoto credit: Getty
The Blues were devastated after nearly making a miracle comeback

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The Blues were devastated after nearly making a miracle comebackPhoto credit: Reuters

In the end, the exceptional had to snatch last year’s trophy from their fingers Karim Benzemawhose extra time finally decided this extraordinary game.

Still, Chelsea were able to leave the Bernabeu with their heads held high after inflicting the absolute scare of his life on the 13-time European champions.

After falling short of a seemingly impossible task after last week’s home game, they reached football’s highest peak of Mount Everest in a feat that even their own manager thought would surpass them.

After the 3-1 defeat, Tuchel wrote off his team’s chances. But he clearly underestimated the character and resilience of a group of players who simply refused to give up the European Cup.

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And if we thought that Sunday’s clash between Manchester City and Liverpool was as good as this game could get, well, last night we were all forced to think again.

Because Chelsea not only made up that two-goal deficit, but were actually in the lead with ten minutes to go and had one foot in the semi-finals.

But in the end their Herculean effort proved too much as the runaway LaLiga leaders snatched victory from a humiliating defeat.

Before this game, Tuchel had complained that his team was at a physical disadvantage because they played more games than any other team in Europe and didn’t have the luxury of five substitutions per game.

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But it wasn’t until the 83rd minute of this monumental exchange of blows that he made his first substitution when his players finally ran out of breath.

And he hadn’t used up his full number of five when the whistle finally blew after 120 minutes of absolute chaos.

After strolling on the Bridge to Victory last week, Really were far less happy with the concept of an opponent coming to the Bernabeu and not just turning around.

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz may not be the most successful strikers in the world, but they made their mark everywhere with their pace and movement.

And their diligence was rewarded in the 15th minute when Chelsea scored the early goal they so desperately needed to keep that tie alive.

Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek exchanged quick passes and when the ball bounced off Werner it landed perfectly at Mason Mount to burst through the middle and smash one into the top corner.

It was the English star’s first Champions League goal since beating the same opponents 2-0 in last season’s semi-finals at Bridge.

And it left the Bernabeu stunned in silence, with the only sound coming from the traveling Chelsea fans in the gods.

Mason Mount took Chelsea to a flyer at the Bernabeu

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Mason Mount took Chelsea to a flyer at the BernabeuPhoto credit: Reuters

Suddenly we had a real game ahead of us as anxious madridistas began to doubt their side’s prospects for the first time.

Chelsea gained confidence, dominated possession and really began to believe it wasn’t an impossible mission after all.

After all, Barcelona had triumphed here 4-0 just three weeks ago, so a two-goal win for a team like Chelsea was certainly not out of the question.

And while Tuchel’s men knew exactly how to keep playing, Real were suddenly caught between two chairs as they debated whether to defend their lead or push forward to put the tie to bed.

But those doubts were taken out of the equation when Chelsea scored again in the 51st minute to stagger the 13-time European champions.

Luka Modric insisted he hadn’t deflected Reece James’ shot into a corner, but Poland referee Szymon Marciniak was adamant the ball had touched his studs.

And when Mount delivered a deep cross into the danger zone, Antonio Rudiger just shoved everyone out of the way to bury a thundering header behind Thibaut Courtois.

Doubtful Thomas thought he was in dreamland when Marcos Alonso rammed another absolute rocket into the top corner on 62 minutes.

Marciniak had no doubt it was a goal and pointed straight to the center circle.

But eagle-eyed David Alaba had noticed the ball flicked Alonso’s hand before it scored and after a lengthy VAR review the goal was agonizingly ruled out.

Timo Werner thought he had won it with his batting for the Blues

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Timo Werner thought he had won it with his batting for the BluesPhoto credit: Reuters

But never mind because 13 minutes later Werner spun past Casemiro and Alaba to hit Courtois again. And this time nobody would deny Chelsea.

Now they only had to watch the last 15 minutes and they were in the semifinals.

But the proud Spanish giants did not leave the game without a fight and with ten minutes remaining Modric’s exquisite ball was volleyed in with the outside of his boot by substitute Rodrygo.

It was a total blow to the ailing Blues, who were now offered another 30 minutes of extra time to push them to their mental and physical limits.

And inevitably it was Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge last week, who finally delivered the coup de grace when he took advantage of a Rudiger slip to put Vinicius’ cross in the 95th minute.

It was a brilliant ending to a great game. And no matter what happens in the remaining games of this competition, nothing will top this one.

Karim Benzema would have the last word if Real progressed to the semifinals

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Karim Benzema would have the last word if Real progressed to the semifinalsPhoto credit: Getty

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/18248049/real-madrid-chelsea-champions-league-2/ Tuchel’s Blues heartbroken as Benzema slams in extra time to secure semi-final spot

Ashley

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