Holders Chelsea knocked out of Champions League
The owner-less defending champions won the match 3-2 but lost the tie 5-4 with red hot Frenchman Benzema scoring the decisive goal in extra time.
Croatian wizard Modric provided what will be the enduring highlight with a sumptuous lofted assist for Rodrygo to score Madrid’s first goal and extend the contest beyond 90 minutes.
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“That’s a piece of art from Luka Modric,” Stan Sport’s Max Rushden said.
“What an outrageous pass with the outside of the boot. You just don’t want it to end.”
Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner scored Chelsea’s goals as the Londoners stormed back from last week’s embarrassing 3-1 home defeat.
Rudiger levels tie for Chelsea
Canny Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel had declared the tie dead after that match in what proved to be a rope-a-dope masterstroke against the sleepy Spaniards.
Until, that is, the waifish Modric woke up the giants with his moment of rare magic.
“Completely transformed the atmosphere,” Mark Pougatch said from the sidelines.
“That sense of jeopardy, uncertainty, is why we love sport so much.”
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich declared Madrid the competition’s new favourites.
“It’s like two great heavyweight champions that keep getting back up off the canvas,” Bosnich said.
Benzema had scored hat tricks in Madrid’s previous two Champions League games to assert himself as the world’s most lethal footballer on form.
The loss adds to Chelsea’s off-field turmoil amid the forced sale of the club after sanctions in Britain against oligarch owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Madrid will next face either Manchester City or Atletico Madrid, who play on Thursday in the Spanish capital with City defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
Meanwhile, Villarreal stunned six-time European champions Bayern Munich to reach the semifinals for the first time in 16 years thanks to Samuel Chukwueze’s 88th-minute goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Villarreal’s 1-0 lead from the first leg was wiped out by Robert Lewandowski seven minutes into the second half, but Chukwueze completed a counterattack within four minutes of coming off the bench to extend the Spanish team’s surprising run in the competition.
The entire city of Villarreal – with a population of 50,000 – could fit into Bayern’s 75,000-capacity stadium.
And while Bayern lifted the European Cup in 2020, the furthest Villarreal has reached in the competition is the semifinals in 2006.
But the same resolve that saw Villarreal beat Manchester United in the 2021 Europa League final has now seen Unai Emery’s side oust both Juventus and Bayern in the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Liverpool or Benfica awaits in the semifinals, with the English club holding a 3-1 lead over the Portuguese side heading into Thursday’s (AEST) second leg at Anfield.
“They made the mistake today of not killing us off and we took advantage of that,” Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno said.
“What this team has done is great.”
The furthest Villarreal has reached in the competition is the semifinals in 2006.
“If you take just this game into account, without the first game, we should have gone through convincingly,” Bayern forward Thomas Muller said.
“It’s difficult to accept this.
“I don’t know what to say.”
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