Mbappé scores twice in PSG win but Vitinha injured
Undefeated in six league matches including five wins and 24 goals scored, Paris Saint-Germain and Kylian Mbappé are in scintillating form ahead of next week's Champions League clash with Juventus. Mbappé scored twice from Lionel Messi assists as they won 3-0 at 10-man Nantes to remain leader of the French league on Saturday. But the French champions were dealt a blow from Vitinha's apparent knee injury. The Portuguese midfielder was forced off the pitch in the first half after falling on the turf following a late tackle from defender Fabio, who was sent off. PSG coach Christophe Galtier said Vitinha took a “big knock on his knee cap” but did not say whether he could recover in time for Tuesday's match against the Serie A side at the Parc des Princes. Read:PSG drops points after 1-1 draw with Monaco; Marseille wins Nantes trailed from the 17th minute after Mbappé's superb goal with a curled right-footed shot from the left side of the box into the opposite corner. He was set up by Messi on the break. Messi was again the provider for Mbappé's seventh goal — this time from close range — which was initially disallowed for offside in the 53rd but given after a VAR check. Nuno Mendes completed the scoring in the 67th from the rebound after Neymar hit the post. PSG leads undefeated Marseille in the standings on goal difference. SANCHEZ MAKES AMENDS After missing a penalty midweek, Alexis Sanchez made amends to cap Marseille's 2-0 win at Auxerre with his third goal in five league matches. Sanchez, who joined Marseille from Inter Milan last month on a free transfer, came off the bench near the hour mark and sealed Marseille's fifth league win in the 83rd minute with a low shot from Matteo Gendouzi's back pass. Marseille has 16 of a possible 18 points. Every time the nine-time champions have managed to remain unbeaten in their six opening matches in the 21st century, they have finished the season in the top three. Marseille will travel to Tottenham next week for the start of its Champions League campaign and coach Igor Tudor rotated his players ahead of the big game in London. Tudor made seven changes, with Sanchez among those left on the bench after he missed from the spot in the 1-0 win against Clermont. Read:Lewandowski leads Barcelona; Benzema keeps Madrid perfect It took only eight minutes for the Marseille visitors to find the net when Gerson scored from the rebound after Cengiz Under dribbled past an Auxerre player in the box and hit the post. Auxerre, which returned to the top-flight after an 11-year absence, was under pressure throughout the first half as Marseille dominated possession in an efficient 3-4-3 system. The hosts played better in the second half but could muster only half-chances. TOKO-EKAMBI SCORES TWICE Karl Toko-Ekambi continued his good run of form by scoring twice in Lyon's 5-0 thrashing of struggling Angers. After being decisive midweek with the winner against Auxerre, Toko Ekambi put the hosts in front against his former team in the 31st minute and scored again near the hour mark. Alexandre Lacazette, Castello Lukeba and Moussa Dembele were also on the scoresheet for third-placed Lyon.
Mané joins Bayern, leaves as a ‘modern-day Liverpool icon’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described Sadio Mané as a “modern-day icon” of the English club after the Senegal forward’s move to Bayern Munich for 32 million euros ($33.5 million) was finalized on Wednesday. “It’s a big moment — there is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise,” Klopp said. “One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.” The 30-year-old Mané has signed a contract with Bayern through June 2025 in a deal that could end up being worth 41 million euros ($42.9 million) depending on future achievements at the Bavarian powerhouse. “There are very few players like him in the world,” Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn said. “We’re sure that Sadio Mané will delight our fans in the coming years with his spectacular style of play. He’s ambitious and eager to win more titles. This package is very strong.” Klopp’s sentiments were similar. Read: Champions League 2021-22: Man City, Liverpool in Strong Position to Reach Final “He leaves with our gratitude and our love,” the Liverpool manager said of Mané. “He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football. “But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have. The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.” Mané just completed what was arguably the best season of his career, converting the clinching penalty in a shootout to win the African Cup of Nations for Senegal, helping his country qualify for the World Cup, and starring for Liverpool in a campaign where the club nearly achieved an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies. He won every major honor with Liverpool — the Champions League and Club World Cup in 2019, the Premier League in 2020 and both the FA Cup and League Cup in 2022. He has also scored 31 goals in 89 appearances for Senegal and was named African Footballer of the Year in 2019. Liverpool has already signed a replacement for Mané in Darwin Núñez, the Uruguay striker who has joined from Benfica. As for Bayern, Mané’s arrival will fuel speculation that Poland star Robert Lewandowski is set to leave. Lewandowski, who has scored 312 goals in 384 Bundesliga games for Bayern and former club Borussia Dortmund, has been pushing for a departure since last season ended. Read: UEFA Champions League 2022 Final: Liverpool to Face Real Madrid Lewandowski tallied 35 goals in 34 appearances last season to become the Bundesliga’s leading scorer for the fifth straight season, and the seventh time overall. He also broke the old record for Bundesliga goals in a season with 41 last year. Mané finished last season playing as Liverpool’s central striker, and scored 120 goals in 269 competitive appearances for the club after joining from Southampton in 2016. He previously played for Salzburg, where he won the Austrian title, and French club Metz, which he joined as a 19-year-old from Génération Foot in Senegal. “Everyone knows his outstanding technical qualities as well as his incredible mentality,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said. “He will contribute a lot and help to lead our team, which has a great structure.”
Marcelo leaving Madrid after fifth Champions League title
Lifting yet another Champions League trophy, Marcelo put an end to his era at Real Madrid. The veteran Brazilian left back said after the team's 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final on Saturday that he will not continue playing for the club. Also read:UEFA Champions League 2022 Final: Vinicius Jr.'s Strikes Secure Real Madrid's 14th UCL Title “It was my last match with Real Madrid,” the 34-year-old Marcelo said. “I’m not sad. I couldn’t be happier as I leave the club. I’m very thankful. It's the end of a very beautiful cycle.” It was an emotional farewell for Marcelo as Madrid celebrated the title with its fans throughout Sunday. He received huge cheers from supporters and was thrown into the air by his teammates a few times. Marcelo cried as he addressed the crowd at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium but said there was no reason to be sad. “I am very happy,” he said. “I’m saying goodbye after winning another Champions League title.” Marcelo is leaving 16 years after he joined from Brazilian club Fluminense in 2006 to take over from Brazil great Roberto Carlos. Marcelo said he plans to play another couple of years before retiring, but gave no hints about where. He said coaching is not in his plans for the future. “I don’t think coaching is for me. I think I’m bad at it, I’m not good with tactics. I have no idea how that works," Marcelo said with a smile. He said later that he wants to somehow be involved with Real Madrid. His son, Enzo, plays for the club's youth teams. Marcelo had won his 24th trophy with the club last month, when Madrid won the Spanish league for a record-extending 35th time. He won his 23rd title in the Spanish Super Cup in January, tying great Francisco “Paco” Gento, whose heyday was the 1950s and 60s. Karim Benzema won his 22nd title with Madrid on Saturday, tying former defender Sergio Ramos. Benzema and Marcelo are among the several Madrid players who tied former club player Cristiano Ronaldo with five Champions League trophies. Gento has six European titles. In his collection of honors, Marcelo has six Spanish league trophies, four Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, two Copa del Reys and five Spanish Super Cups. He also has won a Confederations Cup and two Olympic medals with Brazil. Also read:Argentina vs Italy: Finalissima 2022 Match Details, Predicted Line-ups, Where to Watch Marcelo lost his spot as a starter this season and hadn’t played often under coach Carlo Ancelotti. He did not get to play in Saturday's final. Other players expected to leave Madrid this season include Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Francisco Isco. Luka Modric is set to have his contract renewed. Marcelo’s former Brazil teammate, Dani Alves, has the most career titles with 41, most of them with Barcelona.
UEFA Champions League 2022 Final: Vinicius Jr.'s Strikes Secure Real Madrid's 14th UCL Title
Real Madrid clinched their 14th Champions League title by defeating Liverpool 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League 2022 final at the Stade de France on Saturday (May 28). Liverpool were the pre-match favourites to win the UCL trophy for the 2021–2022 season, and they performed as such. However, Real Madrid's excellent fortune in the campaign continued in the final match. Los Blancos won the title courtesy of a second-half goal from Brazilian sensation Vinicius Junior. The match report of the 2022 UEFA Champions League final is discussed in this article. Match Report of UEFA Champions League 2022 Final: Real Madrid vs Liverpool Liverpool had a strong start to the game, putting pressure on the opponent's defense. They had produced at least three genuine chances in the opening 20 minutes of the game. However, Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was at his utmost best, as he had been all season, and denied Liverpool every time they tried to score. There was also a sense that something wasn't quite right with Liverpool's team, as they continued to miss opportunities. Real Madrid failed to create any meaningful chances in the first half. They attempted to break past the Liverpool defense for the first time in the 43rd minute. After collecting the ball from Federico Valverde, Karim Benzema smashed it into the net. However, he was caught off-side. Read Portugal approves sale of Chelsea by Abramovich Liverpool continued to play with the same energy in the second half, but Real Madrid looked more sturdy. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz all made valiant attempts to penetrate Real Madrid's defense. However, keeper Courtois and some good defensive play kept Liverpool from scoring on every occasion. Real Madrid scored the game's opening goal in the 59th minute, in the midst of Liverpool's squandered chances. They attacked down the right flank, and Valverde delivered a good pass to Vinicius, who slammed it into the net. Liverpool sought to level the score multiple times after that, but failed to do so. In the end, Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League trophy with a 1-0 victory against Liverpool in the 2022 final. Champions League Final 2022 Match Statistics: Liverpool vs Real Madrid Except for the goal chart, Liverpool dominated almost every statistic in the final. Liverpool had 54 percent of possession compared to Real Madrid's 46 percent. They had completed 592 passes, compared to 514 for Madrid. The Kopites had a passing accuracy of 88 percent, whereas the Los Blancos had an accuracy of 82 percent. Read Real Madrid vs Liverpool: UEFA Champions League Final 2022 Preview Real Madrid only had four attempts compared to Liverpool's 24. The English team had nine shots on target, whereas the Spanish team only had two. Liverpool were penalized for 13 fouls and were given one yellow card. Oppositely, Real Madrid committed seven fouls but received no cards. Verdict Real Madrid had accomplished something that no one could have predicted at the start of the 2021–2022 season. The Madrid team is in the midst of a rebuilding phase after losing a number of important players in recent seasons. Even some of their players weren't in good enough shape to play the entire season. Despite this, Real Madrid battled heroically under the leadership of head coach Carlo Ancelotti, who took over as manager last season. They won La Liga with a few games to spare and qualified for the UCL 2022 final by defeating PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City in the knockout stages. The majority of them expected Liverpool to win the UEFA Champions League 2022 final, but that did not happen. Real Madrid have once again shown to the rest of the world that they are the true champions of the Champions League competition. Liverpool's hopes of clinching the quadruple this season were dashed after missing out on the Premier League title last week. They had a chance to win the treble as well, but it didn't happen after losing to Madrid. Therefore, they must be content with the FA Cup and EFL Cup this season. Read European Football Season 2021-2022: Winners and Losers From Big Three leagues
Liverpool, Real Madrid play Champions League final in Paris
Thousands of soccer fans were descending on Paris to see Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League final later Saturday. There are milestones at stake in the Stade de France. Carlo Ancelotti is looking to become the first coach to win European club football’s top prize four times, adding to his 2014 success during his first spell in charge of Madrid. The Italian’s first two triumphs came with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007. Ancelotti has already delivered the Spanish title in his first season back at Madrid, which beat Liverpool in the 2018 final led by Zinedine Zidane for a record-extending 13th European Cup. Read: Real Madrid vs Liverpool: UEFA Champions League Final 2022 Preview “We are very close to achieving something huge this season, and we will give our all to achieve it,” Ancelotti said. “We are very calm in the camp. This team is very good handling the pressure of this matches.” Liverpool went on to become European champions for a sixth time by returning to the final in 2019. Since then Jurgen Klopp has ended the team’s 30-year English championship drought in 2020. While the Premier League was missed out on by a single point last weekend, the season can end with a rare treble of trophies, having already won the FA Cup and the League Cup. Liverpool’s route through the knockout phase past Inter Milan, Benfica and Villarreal seemed relatively smooth. Madrid had to mount repeated comebacks.
Late goal gives Sevilla final Champions League spot in Spain
Sevilla needed a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Atlético Madrid to clinch the final Champions League spot in the Spanish league on Sunday. Barcelona secured second place, and a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia, after a 0-0 draw at Getafe, which escaped relegation. A header by Youssef En-Nesyri in the 85th minute secured the point that gave Sevilla a place in Europe’s top club competition for a third straight season. Third-place Atlético, which had already qualified, opened the scoring with José María Giménez in the first half. A loss would have left Sevilla in a tense situation going into the final round next weekend as rival Real Betis beat Granada 2-0 to close in. The draw kept Sevilla three points ahead with a better head-to-head tiebreaker against fifth-place Betis. “Mission accomplished,” Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui said. “What a great season! The team deserved this prize.” Manuel Pellegrini's Betis had already secured a Europa League place by winning the Copa del Rey, and it will be joined in the second-tier competition by sixth-place Real Sociedad, which defeated Villarreal 2-1 on Sunday. Also read:PSG star Mbappe wins league's best player award for 3rd time Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao, which beat Osasuna 2-0, will fight next weekend for a spot in the third-tier Europa Conference League. Villareal visits Barcelona, while Bilbao is at Sevilla. Real Madrid, which had already clinched the title and is focused on the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 28, drew 1-1 at Cádiz. Alavés became the second team relegated after a 3-1 loss at Levante, which had been demoted in the previous round. Granada, Mallorca and Cádiz will fight to avoid relegation in the final round. EUROPA LEAGUE Unai Emery’s Villarreal had a chance to stay alive in the fight for a Europa League spot but it allowed visiting Sociedad to rally to victory in the second half to secure the final spot in the second-tier competition. Villarreal, which made it to the Champions League semifinals this season, is now in danger of missing out on the final Europa Conference League berth as well after Bilbao moved within a point of seventh place. Bilbao holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Villarreal. RELEGATION FIGHT Mallorca moved out of the relegation zone thanks to a stoppage-time goal by Abdón Prats in a 2-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano. “It was incredible,” Prats said. “Hopefully this goal can keep the team in the first division.” The victory left Mallorca just outside the relegation zone, tied on points with Cádiz but ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker. A win at midtable Osasuna next weekend will guarantee the club owned by American businessman Robert Sarver stays in the top flight. Cádiz will play at last-place Alavés. Granada, sitting one point ahead of Mallorca, will host Espanyol in the final round. SUÁREZ’S FAREWELL Striker Luis Suárez became emotional as he received a huge ovation from Atlético Madrid fans after being substituted in the second half of what was likely his last match with the club. “Thanks for making us champions,” said a banner at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Suárez was key in the team’s title run last season after joining from Barcelona, but gradually lost his starting place and only played a few minutes off the bench recently. Atlético is five points behind Barcelona, which got the result it needed against Getafe to secure the Spanish Super Cup berth in advance. Also read: FIFA takes on EA Sports video game in soccer’s new rivalry MADRID DRAWS Focused on Liverpool, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti again rested some of his starters — including striker Karim Benzema, forward Vinícius Júnior, midfielder Luka Modric and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois — in the draw at relegation-threatened Cádiz. Cádiz missed a chance to leave with the victory when forward Álvaro Negredo had his 61st-minute penalty kick saved by Madrid's Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. The home win would have put Cádiz two points outside the relegation zone. Cádiz won one of its last five matches after a shock 1-0 win against Barcelona at the Camp Nou Stadium. Madrid enters the final round with 85 points, 12 more than Barcelona.
Madrid stun City to enter Champions League final
Young Brazilian Rodrygo's goals in the 90th minute and in stoppage time have inspired another win for the ages. The 3-1 victory over Manchester City Wednesday gave Madrid yet another comeback and set it up for a showdown with Liverpool in the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris. City were moments away from returning to the final before Rodrygo, the substitute forward, stunned the English team with his back-to-back goals, inspiring Madrid to victory like a bruised boxer who lands a knockout combination. Madrid, who had trailed City ever since minute 2 of their first-leg match in Manchester, were finally level. Pep Guardiola's team still had another half hour of extra time, but they never recovered. It seemed inevitable that once resuscitated there was no stopping Madrid. And fittingly it fell to Karim Benzema, the man who had carried Madrid to the final four with hat-tricks in the previous two rounds, to earn and convert the decisive penalty that clinched a 6-5 aggregate victory. "I couldn't hear what my teammates were saying to me because I couldn't believe what was happening," the 21-year-old Rodrygo said about the mayhem that erupted after his goals. "We were dead, and then what happened was what happened." Perhaps City can take solace in that Paris Saint-Germain and defending champion Chelsea were also zombified by whatever wizardry Madrid somehow conjure up at the biggest moments of the biggest games. All good teams occasionally score against the flow of the game. But most, and especially this City engineered by soccer's top stylist in Guardiola, need to dominate stretches of play to produce lots of goals. Not Madrid. Not when they play in front of their fans. The clock becomes meaningless for Madrid at home. The 13-time European Cup winners produce those magic moments when time is suddenly compressed, the crowd roars, opponents freeze, and the goals just flow in quick succession. Ask PSG how Benzema was able to score three goals in less than 20 minutes of the second leg of their round-of-16 series that Kylian Mbappé's team had once controlled to advance 3-2 overall. Ask Chelsea how it was they could have the momentum going into the final period of their quarterfinal in Spain's capital only for Rodrygo and Benzema to score late for a 5-4 aggregate win in extra time. City entered the second leg against Madrid with the advantage after coming out on top of their 4-3 shootout last week. Riyad Mahrez's goal in the 73rd minute appeared to give them the cushion they needed to avoid any last-minute scares. Jack Grealish then went oh-so-close to padding that lead. But that just set the scene for Rodrygo, who coach Carlo Ancelotti had sent on for a tired Toni Kroos, looking to spark his attack. First, he slipped to the near post to tap in a cross knocked to him by Benzema just when City suffered a momentary drop in concentration. Seconds later, with Madrid seizing the moment, came his header when the slight forward managed to open up a bit of space in a packed area to push in a cross by Dani Carvajal flicked on by Marco Asensio. Once again, faith had trumped reason at the Santiago Bernabéu. "The whole world thought the game was nearly over – it was a little detail, a good combination, the goal of Rodrygo, and from there we put in all the energy we had. You need a bit of luck," Ancelotti said. While Ancelotti embraced his son and assistant Davide Ancelotti, Guardiola was left to run a hand over the top of his head and put on his best sportsman's grin as he shook hands with the players. The Catalan coach had just witnessed his grand design to finally win a European Cup for City succumb before that gift that Madrid have of making their players believe that by donning the all-white shirt they are destined for glory. Only the golden years of Lionel Messi's Barcelona, which Guardiola helped forge, was able to somewhat dim that mystique. Also read: Madrid clinch record-extending 35th Spanish league title
Villarreal keeps on surprising, beats Bayern in CL quarters
Villarreal pulled off another surprising Champions League result, this time against sixth-time champion Bayern Munich to boost its hopes of returning to the semifinals for the first time in 16 years. After making it past the group stage and eliminating Juventus in the round of 16, the modest Spanish club took a big step toward reaching the last four by holding on to a 1-0 victory against favorite Bayern in the first leg of the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Also read:Another Benzema hat trick gives Madrid 3-1 edge over Chelsea Arnaut Danjuma’s goal early in the first half was enough for Villarreal at the La Cerámica Stadium, with Bayern unable to get past the solid defense of Unai Emery’s squad and losing only for the second time in 30 Champions League matches. Bayern was unbeaten in its last 22 away games in the Champions League, with 17 wins and five draws in a record run that had started after a loss in 2017 to a Paris Saint-Germain team coached by Emery. The Germans struggled throughout the match on Wednesday and were glad to leave only one goal down. “We’ll take the 1-0 result," veteran Thomas Müller said. “We know that things could have been a lot worse. We have to pay a lot of respects to our opponents. Now we need to pick ourselves back up for the return leg and hit back.” The second leg is next week in Munich, where Villarreal will need a draw to get to the semifinals for the first time since its first last-four appearance in the Champions League in 2006. Villarreal stunned Juventus 3-0 in Italy after a 1-1 draw at home in the last 16. In the other quarterfinal Wednesday, defending champion Chelsea lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg in London. “We deserved to lose. We weren’t good today,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “In the first half, we lacked power in defense and had too few chances. The second half was a completely wild game. We gave up control because we were desperate to score, but we could have conceded two more.” Villarreal looked in control from the start and Bayern struggled to create significant scoring chances. The hosts threatened the most and had some good chances to add to its lead. “There was talk about them being favorites and wanting to seal their place in the semifinals tonight, but we came out very hungry, very humble,” Villarreal midfielder Giovani Lo Celso said. “There’s no doubt they are one of the best teams in the world, but we managed the game well and could have scored even more goals.” Danjuma opened the scoring in the eighth minute by redirecting a close-range shot by Dani Parejo as the Bayern defense was caught off guard. It was Danjuma’s sixth goal in nine Champions League appearances this season, and seventh in 11 career games in the competition. Villarreal thought it had doubled the lead in the 41st but Francis Coquelin’s goal from a tough angle was disallowed for offside. Also read:Mbappe runs the show in PSG’s 5-1 win over Lorient Striker Gerard Moreno twice had opportunities to add to Villarreal's lead after that. First with a low shot from outside the area that hit the post in the 53rd, and 10 minutes later after intercepting a bad pass by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer near midfield and missing his long-range shot into the open net. The ball ended up curling too much as Neuer desperately tried to run back into position. Bayern increased the pressure near the end but again it was Villarreal that nearly added to the lead when substitute Alfonso Pedraza missed from close range on a counterattack in the 87th. Villarreal did a good job containing Robert Lewandowski throughout the match and he had few opportunities inside the area. He entered the match as the Champions League’s leading scorer with 12 goals from eight matches and had scored seven goals in his last five games in all competitions. The Poland striker is ranked third on the all-time list of Champions League scorers, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Bayern's Canadian player Alphonso Davies made his first appearance since Dec. 17 after a long injury layoff because of cardiac issues. Villarreal, based in a city of about 50,000 people, is playing in the quarterfinals for the first time in 13 years. It qualified for the Champions League by winning last season’s Europa League. Bayern was eliminated by PSG at this stage last season. The German club made it to the last eight 10 times in the last 11 seasons. The team is playing in the quarterfinals for a record 20th time. The winner will play either Benfica or Liverpool in the semifinals. Liverpool won the first leg in Lisbon 3-1.
Another Benzema hat trick gives Madrid 3-1 edge over Chelsea
Back-to-back Champions League hat tricks just reinforce the enduring value of Karim Benzema's clinical finishing to Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti sees so much more being provided by the 34-year-old forward he compares to a fine wine. “He is more of a leader every day,” the Madrid coach said after Benzema's goals produced a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. “He feels more and more important in this team and I think that’s what makes the difference. He has so much more personality. He is an example for everyone.” Also read:Villarreal keeps on surprising, beats Bayern in CL quarters This latest goal burst could end Chelsea’s title defense, barring the type of second-leg collapse by Madrid that Paris Saint-Germain endured last month at the the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Benzema now has 37 goals in 36 games in all competitions this season, including the three that turned around the last-16 meeting with PSG. “They’re magic nights,” Benzema said. “Today we came out to win, to show we’re Real Madrid. Things worked out well for us as we played well, from the first minute to the last.” The France international is almost single-handedly keeping the Spanish giants on the path to a record-extending 14th European Cup — and a fifth for himself — and powering them to regaining the La Liga title. Of Madrid's last 11 goals, 10 have been scored by the mainstay of the team for the last 13 years. The first two at Stamford Bridge were thumping headers inside three first-half minutes in the driving rain, while the third was gifted to him in a manner that raised doubts about whether Chelsea can muster a comeback in Madrid on Tuesday. “I think it helped us that our build-up play from the back was good,” said Ancelotti, who won the 2010 Premier League with Chelsea. “We found space between the lines. And then with Benzema and Vinicius we were dangerous.” Chelsea had given itself hope of recovering when Kai Havertz reduced the deficit with a header five minutes before halftime from Jorginho’s cross. But only a minute of the second half had elapsed when Chelsea’s slack defending proved so costly. Edouard Mendy was about 30 yards out from goal when the ball came to him and the goalkeeper brought it down with his chest. Rather than clearing down the field, he sent a short pass tamely to the dawdling Antonio Rüdiger. It was a gift for Benzema to intercept before striking into the unprotected net with Mendy still stranded outside the penalty area. “I’m happiest to have scored the third," he said, "as I missed one in the first half and I was thinking about that chance because it’s very important to score goals. Then I got another and I’m very happy.” The precision of Benzema’s first-half headers -- after getting on the end of crosses from Vinicius Jr. in the 21st minute and Luka Modric in the 24th — was in contrast to the shortcomings of Chelsea’s No. 9. Substitute Romelu Lukaku had a great chance with a header of his own when there was still more than 20 minutes to go, but glanced it wide of the post, resulting in groans around Stamford Bridge. “Very important," Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said of the miss. An all-English semifinal is looking less likely. The winner of this quarterfinal will face Manchester City or Atletico Madrid, with City ahead 1-0 after Tuesday's first leg at the Etihad Stadium. Also read:UEFA Champions League 2022: Top favourites to reach the semi-finals Asked whether his quarterfinal was still alive, Tuchel sharply replied: “No.” It showed his frustration after his team's hold on third place in the Premier League was loosened by a surprising 4-1 loss to Brentford on Saturday. “We have to find our level back,” Tuchel said, “but we don't know where it is.” The most significant action might not even have been on the field for Chelsea on Wednesday. Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly flew in for the game as the tussle to buy the team from sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich intensifies, with the contenders whittled down in recent weeks. It just adds to the uncertainty hanging over the west London team. "I will not accept it as an excuse," Tuchel said. There was a surprise in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal with Bayern Munich losing 1-0 at Villarreal.
Benzema scores hat trick, Madrid rallies to oust PSG from CL
Real Madrid fans started the evening by applauding Kylian Mbappé and ended it by cheering Karim Benzema and celebrating another epic Champions League night the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Benzema responded to another goal by Mbappé by scoring a hat trick in less than 20 minutes in the second half Wednesday as Madrid came from behind to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. It was yet another frustrating result in Europe for PSG, which won the first leg 1-0 and doubled its advantage through Mbappé in the first half but again failed to live up to the massive expectations after adding Lionel Messi to its star-studded team this season. “It turned out to be a spectacular night for us,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It was a difficult match and it got even more complicated after their first goal. We suffered a lot. But after we scored the atmosphere in the stadium changed and the fans began to push us again and the players began to believe that they could finish the comeback.” Read:Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United: Champions League match preview, team news Mbappé opened the scoring in the 39th minute to increase PSG’s aggregate lead after the France striker also netted in stoppage time to secure the first-leg win in Paris. Mbappé has been widely linked with a move to Madrid after his contract expires at the end of the season and was cheered by part of the Madrid fans when his name was announced in the PSG lineup before the match. His family was also at the Bernabéu. But when it was all over the ovation was for Madrid and Benzema, who at 34 years, 80 days became the oldest player to score a Champions League hat trick. He surpassed Olivier Giroud, who was 34 years, 63 days when he hit a treble for Chelsea at Sevilla in 2020. Benzema also reached 309 goals with Madrid to surpass Alfredo Di Stéfano for third place on the club’s all-time scoring list, and 67 in the Champions League to surpass Raúl González’s 66 with the club and become second-best to Cristiano Ronaldo. “We needed the fans and they were behind us until the end,” Benzema said. “This victory is for them.” More than 60,000 were on hand for the biggest crowd at the Bernabéu since the coronavirus pandemic started. The stadium, which remains under renovation, remained packed several minutes after the final whistle as players stayed on the field celebrating with the fans. Benzema’s third Champions League hat trick started in the 61st after a blunder by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He then scored again in the 76th and 78th minutes to give the 13-time European champions a 3-2 aggregate win. Madrid reached the last eight for the second straight season after consecutive eliminations in the round of 16. Read:Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid: Champions League match preview, prediction, team news PSG, seeking its first Champions League title, had advanced past the round of 16 the last two seasons, losing the final to Bayern Munich in 2020 and being eliminated by Manchester City in the semifinals in 2021. In the other last-16 match on Wednesday, Manchester City advanced past Sporting Lisbon 5-0 on aggregate after a scoreless draw in England. PSG appeared in control after Mbappé, who had been doubtful to play after picking up a knock in training on Monday, scored in the 39th after collecting a long pass by Neymar and making a run into the area before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. It was the 27th Champions League goal for the 23-year-old France forward with PSG, leaving him three shy of Edinson Cavani’s club record in the competition. He has scored 14 goals in his last 14 Champions League appearances. Mbappé had already had a few chances before opening the scoring, including a goal disallowed for offside in the build-up. He also had one goal called back for the same reason in the second half. Neymar and Lionel Messi also threatened for PSG after Madrid looked in control early. Vinícius Júnior and Benzema threatened the most for Madrid, and the French striker scored the equalizer off a pass from Vinícius after Donnarumma gave the ball away while being pressured by Benzema inside the area. “The goalkeeper waited and waited, he lost the ball and it was a goal,” Benzema said. “He should have cleared it, simple as that.” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino complained that Benzema had fouled Donnarumma. “It was a clear foul and it wasn’t called,” Pochettino said. “We became nervous after that goal and things got complicated. We didn’t manage it well after that.” Benzema added the second after a pass from Luka Modric and a couple of minutes later sealed the team’s spot in the quarterfinals with a one-time finish after another run by Vinícius down the left flank. Madrid was without Ferland Mendy and Casemiro because of yellow-card suspensions, but Toni Kroos started after being doubtful because of muscle injury. Federico Valverde replaced Casemiro, while Nacho Fernández started at left back instead of veteran Marcelo.