Villarreal stunned six-time European champions Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 16 years thanks to Samuel Chukwueze’s 88th-minute goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Villarreal’s 1-0 lead from the first leg was wiped out by Robert Lewandowski seven minutes into the second half, but Chukwueze completed a counterattack within four minutes of coming off the bench to extend the Spanish team’s surprising run in the competition.
“What this team has done is great.”
The entire population of the south-eastern Spanish city of Villarreal — 50,000 — could fit into Bayern’s 75,000-capacity stadium.
And while Bayern lifted the European Cup in 2020, the furthest Villarreal has reached in the competition before now was the semifinals in 2006.
There could be another six-time champion to eliminate to reach a first Champions League final.
Liverpool or Benfica awaits in the semis, with the English club holding a 3-1 lead over the Portuguese side heading into Wednesday’s second leg at Anfield.
Benzema the saviour once again for Real
With Real Madrid looking beaten and on the verge of elimination after a fierce comeback by defending champion Chelsea, Karim Benzema came up big once again.
Having scored a hat trick in the first leg to give Madrid a 3-1 lead, Benzema spoiled the English team’s comeback by netting the decisive goal in extra time on Tuesday to put the Spanish club back into the semis.
After trailing 3-0 at home, Madrid pulled two goals back to secure a 5-4 aggregate victory despite losing 3-2 in the return leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
“It was another incredible night at the Bernabéu,” said Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who set up the hosts’ first goal for substitute Rodrygo
Benzema also saved Madrid in the round of 16 by scoring a second-half hat trick in a 3-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain after Madrid had lost 1-0 in Paris and conceded early at the Bernabéu.
Benzema’s 12th Champions League goal this season came with a header off a cross by Vinícius Júnior six minutes into extra time.
The hosts had looked defeated after going down 3-0 in regulation time.
Chelsea overpowered Madrid early and built a lead through goals by Mason Mount in the 15th, Antonio Rüdiger in the 51st and Timo Werner in the 75th.
Madrid will next face either Manchester City or Atlético Madrid.
The two teams play on Wednesday in the Spanish capital, with City defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
The loss will add to Chelsea’s off-field turmoil amid the forced sale of the club after sanctions against oligarch owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.