Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has credited the ‘magic of the Bernabeu’ for his side’s Champions League comeback against Chelsea to reach the semi-finals on Tuesday night.
Real held a two-goal advantage from the first leg at Stamford Bridge but saw that disappear when goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner turned the tie around and gave Chelsea the aggregate lead with only 15 minutes remaining.
But Rodrygo pulled back a stunning late goal to force extra-time, before Karim Benzema continued his best ever season by winning it in the added period.
“At no stage did I think that it was over, particularly because we were playing here at the Bernabeu. It's difficult to put it into words, but this magic spurs you on,” Ancelotti reflected.
“It helped to give the whole team that energy boost to get through to the semi-finals…the magic of this stadium helps the players to never give in.”
Benzema’s tie-winning goal was his 38th of an increasingly spectacular season and his 12th in the Champions League alone after successive hat-tricks in recent games.
The Frenchman has thrived at Real since taking over from Cristiano Ronaldo as the main man in 2018, with this season representing the most prolific of his career.
His previous record tally for a single season was 32 goals in all competitions and you couldn’t bet against him reaching 50 before 2021/22 is over.
Speaking ahead of the Chelsea game, Ancelotti didn’t hide away from how important the player is.
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There were slight concerns that Benzema had suffered an injury as he appeared in discomfort towards the end of the game and seemed to be hobbling. But Ancelotti allayed fears.
“There's nothing wrong with Benzema,” he confirmed.