Sports

Villarreal, Real Madrid make Champions League semifinals


MUNICH, MADRID: Villarreal dumped Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Tuesday, Samuel Chukwueze’s 88th-minute strike at the Allianz Arena giving the Spaniards a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their quarterfinal tie that took them through 2-1 on aggregate.

Robert Lewandowski had put Bayern ahead on the night to level the tie on aggregate after Villarreal’s 1-0 first-leg win, and extra time loomed until Chukwueze struck.

The result means Bayern Munich exit the Champions League in the quarterfinals for the second year running.

Villarreal are into the semifinals for the first time since 2006 and will play either Liverpool or Benfica in the last four. The English side take a 3-1 lead into Wednesday’s second leg at Anfield.

Unai Emery’s Villarreal soaked up everything Bayern threw at their defense, aside from Lewandowski’s strike early in the second half.

It was a heartbreaking night for Bayern, who dominated for most of the match before Chukwueze scored just four minutes after coming on.

Bayern started with urgency, but the Villarreal defense was alert to every threat.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann changed formation, opting for a three-man defense instead of a back four.

Villarreal were pinned in their own half for most of the first half as Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez dictated play from the back.

Yet for all their domination of possession, a header by Jamal Musiala straight at Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was Bayern’s only clear chance of a goalless first half.

Lewandowski, who was largely well marshalled, earned the first booking of the game.

The Villarreal back four worked tirelessly throughout, but leftback Pervis Estupinan had a particularly busy first half as Leroy Sane constantly probed down the flank.

Bayern finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute.

A loose pass out of defense only got as far as Kingsley Coman, who moved the ball to Thomas Mueller.

The Germany star slipped the ball into the path of Lewandowski, who managed to get his shot past two defenders and the diving Rulli.

The Poland striker let out a primal scream to celebrate his 13th goal in 10 Champions League games this season.

Bayern kept up the pressure as Mueller went close with a diving header and was left with his head in his hands, as was Coman when he fired over soon after.

Nagelsmann sent on some fresh legs in a bid to get a decisive second goal inside the 90 minutes by bringing on Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

However, Villarreal stunned the home crowd when Gerard Moreno broke down the left.

He put in a low cross which Chukwueze sent spinning over Neuer to send the Spaniards through.

Benzema strikes again as Real Madrid fend off Chelsea comeback

Chelsea’s title defense in the Champions League ended despite a 3-2 win against Real Madrid on Tuesday, with Karim Benzema spoiling the English team’s comeback by scoring in extra time to put the Spanish powerhouse back into the semifinals.

Benzema had scored a hat trick in the first leg to give Madrid a 3-1 lead, then got the decisive goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium with a header off a cross by Vinicius Junior six minutes into extra time.

The hosts had looked beaten after going down 3-0 in regulation, but substitute Rodrygo evened the aggregate score in the 80th and Madrid found a way to reach the last four for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.

Chelsea had overpowered Madrid early and built a lead through goals by Mason Mount in the 15th, Antonio Rüdiger in the 51st and Timo Werner in the 75th.

Madrid will next face either Manchester City or Atletico Madrid, which play on Wednesday in the Spanish capital with City defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

The loss will add to Chelsea’s off-the-field turmoil amid the forced sale of the club after sanctions in Britain against oligarch owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea sit in third place in the Premier League, five points clear of Tottenham in the final Champions League place with a game in hand.

Chelsea had eliminated Madrid 3-1 on aggregate in last year’s semifinals en route to their second Champions League title.

The defending champions looked the more dangerous team during most of the match but both sides had opportunities in a high-intensity encounter that went back-and-forth toward the end of regulation.

Chelsea’s American substitute Christian Pulisic had two good chances for a decisive goal in stoppage time but couldn’t capitalize on them. The visitors also had a couple of opportunities later in extra time as they pushed for a goal that would take it to penalties.

The English side got a dream start when Mount opened the scoring after quick touches by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Werner caught the Madrid defense off guard and left the forward with an easy shot from inside the area.

The visitors got the second with a firm header by Rüdiger off a corner by Mount, and they thought they had another in the 62nd after Marcos Alonso scored from inside the area, but the goal was called back after video review because of a handball.

Instead, the third goal came when Werner scored from close range after a nice move to go past defenders in front of the net, but Madrid roared back five minutes later with a volley by substitute Rodrygo. It was set up by an exquisite pass by Luka Modric with the outside of his boot after Chelsea captain N’Golo Kante gave the ball away with a bad pass near the sideline.

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had made a good save to deny an attempt by Kai Havertz a few moments earlier.

Benzema, who struck a header off the crossbar in the 66th, had been mostly contained as Madrid struggled to move the ball into attack and kept giving Chelsea opportunities.

Madrid couldn’t play at the Bernabeu in the semifinals against Chelsea last year because the venue was undergoing major renovation work. Instead, the first leg was at the small Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in the club’s training center, a match that ended 1-1 before Chelsea won 2-0 in London.

Madrid played in the semifinals eight straight seasons before consecutive round-of-16 eliminations in 2018 and 2019. The loss in 2019 came against Ajax and was the last time Madrid were eliminated after winning the first leg. They were stunned 4-1 at home after a 2-1 win in the first match.

Madrid had stunned Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 this season behind a second half hat trick by Benzema in the second leg at the Bernabeu.

Chelsea eliminated Lille 4-1 on aggregate in the last 16.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.