Chelsea’s hopes of salvaging success from a season of abject mediocrity were ended ruthlessly by Real Madrid as the holders advanced into the Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues were always battling against the odds to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in the Bernabeu and their cause was not helped by a familiar failing as a battling performance was undermined by missing a succession of clear chances.
N’Golo Kante missed a glorious first-half opening while Marc Cucurella was blocked by former Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois when he looked certain to reduce Real’s advantage.
The Spanish champions had moments of their own and there are few sides more adept at making opponents pay for wasted opportunities and so it proved.
A lightning counter attack led by Vinicius Junior ended with Rodrygo putting the tie to bed with a close-range finish just before the hour
The Brazilian forward then walked in the second after brilliant, unselfish work by Federico Valverde with 10 minutes left.
Carlo Ancelotti’s quest for an historic fifth win as a coach in this tournament will continue with a semi-final against either Bayern Munich or Manchester City while Chelsea’s interim manager Frank Lampard, who now has four defeats from four games, must somehow lift the grim mood of despair around the club.
In among the many mistakes made by Chelsea’s new ownership group led by Todd Boehly, one of the most obvious is shelling out £600m in a madcap transfer spree but failing to acquire someone who deals in the most precious commodity of all, namely goals.
Chelsea gave a very decent performance here, certainly the best of Frank Lampard’s short reign, but a painful lack of end product meant there was almost an air of inevitability they would eventually be punished by the street wisdom and quality in Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Kante had Chelsea’s best opportunities while Cucurella and substitute Mykhailo Mudryk also failed to cash in on good positions, although the latter’s chance came with only minutes left and the tie over.
Chelsea are currently languishing in 11th place in the Premier League. They will not be in the Champions League next season, a big pull for potential purchases, while Boehly and the Clearlake group must find a manager to mend the fractures in the club after the sackings of Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter this season.
It will have to be ambition and reputation that lures that man because all the elite names who may come into contention will invariably wish to ply their trade in the Champions League.
Lampard will need to show some serious powers of motivation to inspire an upbeat end to the season at a club that has lost its way.
Real Madrid’s reign as the kings of Europe continues into another Champions League semi-final and they will pose a massive threat to whoever they meet – most likely Manchester City as they hold a 3-0 advantage from the first leg against Bayern Munich.
They not only have the competition’s most successful manager in four-time winner Ancelotti but possess a team of such vast experience that knows exactly how to get the job done.
Chelsea followed Liverpool in being put away in the Champions League with the minimum of fuss.
Real are always able to find a hero from somewhere when it matters and here it was Rodrygo with two simple finishes, although man of the match was the outstanding Uruguayan Valverde.
This is a club that always believes it is their destiny to win the Champions League and they will be getting the old familiar feeling as they move into the last four once again.
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