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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Rodrygo piles on Chelsea agony

Milan survive hostile Napoli to enter last-four for the first time in 16 years

Reuters London Published 20.04.23, 04:53 AM
Rodrygo scores his and Real Madrid’s second goal past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga atStamford Bridge on Tuesday

Rodrygo scores his and Real Madrid’s second goal past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga atStamford Bridge on Tuesday Reuters

Holders Real Madrid breezed past Chelsea into the semi-finals of the Champions League with Rodrygo’s double securing a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s hopes of maintaining interest in a woeful season always looked slender after losing last week in the Bernabeu and Rodrygo put them out of their misery with two second-half goals to confirm Real’s superiority with a 4-0 aggregate win.

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The hosts had 19 goal attempts but once again they lacked any cutting edge as they lost a fourth match in succession in all competitions since the club’s record scorer Frank Lampard returned as interim manager.

N’Golo Kante spurned two chances to cut the deficit and Real’s former Chelseakeeper Thibaut Courtois made a crucial save just beforehalf time to frustrate his old club who have now managed only one goal in their last six games.

Real, bidding for a record-extending 15th European crown, bided their time and Rodrygo opened the scoring in the 58th minute, before tapping in again in the 80th to spark a mass exodus of Chelsea fans who had seen enough.

Despite spending around $745 million on players since a Todd Boehly-led takeover, the London club have now lost four games in a row for the first time since 1993.

For Real, they may be handing the La Liga title to arch-rivals Barcelona, but remain the team to beat in Europe’s elite competition and manager Carlo Ancelotti is now eyeing a third Champions League crown with them and fifth in all.

AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud fights for the ball with two Napoli players

AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud fights for the ball with two Napoli players Reuters

Giroud scores

AC Milan reached the semi-finals for the first time since they won the trophy 16 years ago thanks to a first-half goal from Olivier Giroud at Napoli that secured a 1-1 draw and 2-1 aggregate win despite a barrage of pressure.

Napoli battled until the end but could not break down the Milan defence until striker Victor Osimhen equalised three minutes into stoppage time with a bullet header but it was too late as the referee ended the match seconds later.

This was the third meeting between Milan and Napoli in 16 days, with Stefano Pioli’s visiting side having claimed a 4-0 victory against the runaway Serie A leaders on April 2.

After Milan won the quarter final first leg 1-0, Napoli pushed for the opening goal from the start as the visitors were forced to defend deep against an attacking onslaught.

Milan struggled in a raucous atmosphere, with loud boos resounding throughout the stadium, but they held off an aggressive Napoli side for most of the match with an impressive defensive display.

Milan had the chance to take the lead with a penalty after 22 minutes but goalkeeper Alex Meret dived to stop Giroud’s low strike.

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