Carlo Ancelotti lauds Real Madrid substitutes for their impact
Los Blancos took on the Blues in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night (12 April). Gunning to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg, Chelsea started the game strongly and pulled one back through Mason Mount in the 15th minute. Antonio Rudiger then scored the Blues’ second in the 51st minute before Timo Werner made the aggregate scoreline 4-3 in his side’s favor in the 75th minute.
Minutes away from a humiliating Champions League exit, Ancelotti turned to his bench and introduced Rodrygo and Marcelo in the 78th minute in place of Casemiro and Ferland Mendy, respectively. Rodrygo scored Los Blancos’ opener only a couple of minutes later to push the game into extra time. Karim Benzema scored the tie-winning goal, inflicting a 5-4 aggregate defeat upon the west London outfit.
After the match, Ancelotti hailed his substitutes for the impact they made in Tuesday’s do-or-die encounter. Speaking to Marca, he said:
“We have won this game thanks to energy from the bench. I made the changes to put energy into the team. The team has suffered a lot and the players have not shied away.”
He also claimed that his side missed defender Eder Militao’s physicality during set-pieces. The Brazilian centre-back was suspended for the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Real Madrid manager added:
“We didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down. We suffered from set pieces as we didn’t have Militao in the team. The magic of the stadium has helped us a lot again. The more you suffer, the happier I am.”
While Rodrygo is bound to make all the headlines for his goal, fellow substitute Eduardo Camavinga also played a crucial role. Introduced in place of Toni Kroos in the 73rd minute, he added pace and power to Madrid’s midfield, which helped a great deal in thwarting Chelsea’s attacks.
Chelsea must feel hard done by Champions League quarter-final elimination to Real Madrid
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues produced an excellent performance on Tuesday night. They outclassed Madrid for most of the match and were thoroughly punished for a couple of mistakes they made. In the 80th minute, N’Golo Kante allowed Modric a free pass, which led to the Croatian’s scintillating assist for Rodrygo.
Once again, in the 96th minute, Chelsea’s defense switched off briefly, allowing Vinicius Junior to put in a cross. Unluckily, Rudiger also slipped in a crucial moment, paving the way for Benzema to score and seal the game.
The Blues also missed quite a few half-chances against Real Madrid in the dying embers of regulation time. Had Christian Pulisic been a little more clinical, the Premier League giants might not have ended the night in agony.