All-English Champions League Final Set as Chelsea Beat Real Madrid 2-0 in 2nd Leg (3-1 on aggregate)
After Manchester City clinched their place in the final last night, we awaited the result of Chelsea vs Real Madrid to see who would meet them to battle for the title of Europe’s best. Zidane looked to take his Madrid team to what would be their fifth Champions League final in ten years, and Chelsea attempted to get there for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
As it Happened:
With little in the way of chances created early on, both teams traded possession and looked to establish control. Hazard saw a lot of the ball and tried to work his way through the Chelsea backline, hoping to make a real impact for Real Madrid for the first time this campaign. Timo Werner, who has similarly struggled to assert himself this season, made a good run down the left-wing but was unable to create space for a shot.
A long-range shot from an unlikely source – a masked Antonio Rudiger – called Courtois into action for the first time tonight, and he needed to be sharp to block a low cross from Werner almost immediately after. It appeared the game was starting to open up, and a breaking Eden Hazard was brought down by Jorginho; resulting in the first yellow card of the evening.
In the first 15 minutes, the most pressing matter was the match ball needing to be replaced twice. As the play continued to open further, a surging Luka Modric fired a long-range effort; but it was straight at Mendy and Chelsea could break away. Mount and Chilwell combined, and Werner slotted in his first goal from open play in the Champions League this season – but it was immediately ruled offside.
With Varane out of the lineup, Real Madrid looked vulnerable at the back. As Los Blancos started to look more comfortable, Karim Benzema was able to create room for a shot and curled an effort towards the far corner, resulting in a superb save from Mendy. Chelsea returned fire after some quick feet from Kante resulted in a beautiful chip from Havertz that hit the bar, and it was subsequently cleaned up and slotted in by Timo Werner. 1-0.
Chelsea looked like their confidence was growing, as Werner charged forward once more and was just unable to find the run of Rudiger. Real Madrid’s defence continued to look shaky. The Spaniards worked to return the goal, as a header from Benzema forced yet another acrobatic save from Mendy. Ramos threw Azpilicueta to the ground whilst jostling during a free-kick, resulting in a yellow card for the Madrid captain. The two teams traded chances until the halftime whistle.
Dominating the ball with 61% possession in the first half, Real Madrid needed to come out from the break with intent. Chelsea started the second stanza with confidence, and Kai Havertz hit the woodwork – for the second time tonight – within a minute and a half with a header; carrying on his hot form from the weekend against Fulham. Real Madrid continued to look sluggish, Chelsea continued to look slick. Havertz, Mount, and Werner combined for an attractive move, tearing Madrid’s defence apart, but Mount could not work the goalkeeper.
The Spanish representatives continued to try to work space, but ultimately continued to lack the final pass. Kai Havertz again got into space after a long-ball over the top, splitting the Madrid defence, but had his shot saved by Courtois – he could have had three already. Knowing they had to make some changes, Zidane sent on Asensio and Valverde.
They immediately looked more lively, and Hazard was able to work Mendy from the edge of the area. Defence to attack again by Chelsea as they broke with pace; Werner laid the ball off to Kante but again the Blues were unable to get the ball in the back of the net. The commentators agreeing that they “should have had their flights to Turkey booked already.”
Christian Pulisic, coming on as a substitute, frustrated the Madrid backline straight away. Minutes later, he broke down the wing, got around Sergio Ramos, and whipped a cross into the six-yard box that was narrowly missed by Havertz. Chelsea continued to create chances but could not widen the gap.
Pulisic played with a relentless pace and broke through the Spanish defence once more, firing a shot wide of the far post. They continued to press and Kante forced a mistake, played it into Pulisic, and Mason Mount was able to score a tap-in from close-range; 2-0. With five minutes remaining, it looked all but over – and it was.
Chelsea deservedly go through; 2-0 on the night, 3-1 on aggregate. It should have been more. Real Madrid’s defence (without Varane, and including Ramos who hadn’t played since March) could not cope with the Blues’ pace going forward, and their attackers weren’t able to create much in the way of chances or frustrate the Chelsea backline.
Chelsea will play Manchester City this Saturday, and they will meet again in Turkey on the 29th of May in only the third all-English Champions League final in the last ten years.