Real Madrid beat Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final

MADRID – The noise grew and swelled with each passing second, changing the timbre and tone. It began with whistles, desperate and urgent, to turn into something closer to howling, formless and elemental, filled with anxiety and anticipation, as if the sound itself could drive away further suffering.

The moment he heard the last whistle, it was so loud that it seemed to rise from the ground or rumble from the sky. Somehow, however, it turned out to be an introduction: the release was yet to come as Real Madrid and Chelsea players fell to the pitch, the winners that day lost and the losers triumphed on two legs, and the Bernabeu crackled and shook.

This, of course, is not the first time the Champions League match has ended like this: the spectacular comeback and breathtaking turnaround are now classified as the calling card of this competition, which is so common that it is somehow extraordinary that every time it somehow keeps its ability to surprise.

It’s not even like it’s a rarity here. The sight of Real Madrid players, eagles spread out on the field in a state of pure, blissful exhaustion, who in some way turned a certain defeat into a triumph, actually happens alarmingly often. It happened only a month ago, for a start, against Paris Saint-Germain.

This is exactly what the Champions League is doing: producing evenings in which Villarreal, a team that jumps a little above the middle of the table in Spain, can knock out Bayern Munich and still find themselves in the shadows. That’s exactly what Real Madrid is doing: flirting with disappointment, playing with disaster, and then pushing a switch and coming out as the winner.

Even by those standards, however, Real Madrid’s exhausting, exciting, exciting defeat by Chelsea – overall (5-4), if not the evening itself (3-2 defeat) – managed to be exhausting, more exciting, more exciting than most.

After all, there was not just one comeback, but two, combined in the same marathon: Chelsea overcame the two-goal advantage Real Madrid established last week in London, seemingly reserved a place in the semi-finals in the process, and then Real Madrid. beaten and terrified, he rose from the ashes to abduct him.

Everything turned in one pass. 80 minutes Real fans did nothing but suffer. They arrived at the Bernabeu in a good mood, floating the Paseo de la Castellana filled with absolute confidence that Carlo Ancelotti’s team could do the job. However, it is Real Madrid in the Champions League. That’s exactly how these things work.

It lasted all 15 minutes, pierced in a flash by Mason Mount’s opening goal. The Bernabeu became restless, restless. It seemed that Real Madrid froze, as if probably the most experienced, most sedentary team in Europe is not quite sure what the protocol is in this situation. Chelsea smelled blood.

Immediately after the half, Antonio Rüdiger from Chelsea scored – a simple goal, a header from a corner, as if all this was quite easy – and there was an equalizer. There was an oppressive, disturbing silence, the sound of waking 61,000 people remembering that, oh yes, this Real Madrid is pretty old now, isn’t it, and it’s been through a lot, and it needs refreshment.

There was a brief flash of hope when Marcos Alonso’s goal was ruled out for the smallest ball by hand, but it turned out to be illusory. A few minutes later, Timo Werner slid and slid around the edge of the penalty area and crossed the ball over the line. Laughter then rained down, just for a moment. Several people headed for the exits. Few people always go to the exits. At this stage, everyone should really know better.

That was the mood when Luka Modric got the ball, in the very half of Chelsea, in 10 minutes of play. To the naked and untrained eye there was no possibility before him; only Rodrygo, a young Brazilian winger, rushes to the other side of the field, obediently followed by the defender. Modric had no choice but to return, to change the angle of the attack, to build again.

Or, it turns out, he could have thrown the ball from the outside of his right foot just outside Chelsea’s defense and right into Rodrygo’s boot, inside the penalty area, perfectly timed for him to direct the shot past Eduardo Mendy without interruption. The pass did not exist. Modric found it, however, and Real Madrid found its conviction in that.

That goal took the game into extra time, giving the home team, the upcoming Spanish champion, a delay. Real Madrid does not spend them.

Karim Benzema, the scorer of all three goals of his team in the first game, gave Real Madrid the lead in the overall standings after 96 minutes to go. By that stage, all sense of order had been broken, all thoughts of planning or reason or strategy thrown to the wind.

Chelsea have thrown all their players forward. Real Madrid’s left-back, Marcelo, eventually played as a striker, for reasons he didn’t even understand. There were fears: Jorginha’s blow, Kai Havertz’s header. All evening, the whole campaign seemed to be hanging by a thread.

All this time the noise was getting louder and louder, first greedy and then impatient and finally fair and demanding. It has become a place and a crowd crying to get out of their misery. No one heard the whistle. No one could hear the whistle.

They knew it was over only when they saw the players on the pitch, all the breath drawn from their bodies, their legs suddenly kneeling, a conclusion that was both impossible and inevitable. You should get used to this by now, really. After all, that’s how it always ends, at Real Madrid. It just doesn’t always end like this.

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