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Antonio Rudiger stars as Chelsea are eliminated from Champions League


Holders Chelsea were eliminated from the Champions League on Tuesday night following a 5-4 aggregate quarter-final defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.

The Blues went into the game with a 3-1 deficit from the first leg at Stamford Bridge. Mason Mount pulled one goal back in the 15th minute. Antonio Rudiger’s powerful header made it 2-0 in Chelsea’s favour.

With the scores tied on aggregate (3-3), the Blues were unfortunate to have Marcos Alonso’s goal chalked off for a minor hand ball, but they eventually went ahead through Timo Werner in the 75th minute.

Just when it seemed that Chelsea had sealed an improbable comeback, Rodrygo came off the bench to score for Madrid in the 80th minute. He volleyed home from a stellar cross from Luka Modric.

Karim Benzema eventually sealed the victory for Real Madrid with their second goal on the night in the 96th minute. Chelsea should feel hard done by with the overall outcome of the second leg.

They had a stunning 28 shots compared to Madrid’s 10, but were not clinical enough. Christian Pulisic missed two chances to win the tie for the Blues during the closing stages of normal time.

He squandered another opportunity in extra-time. Kai Havertz and Jorginho also failed to find the target with close-range efforts. Madrid were not at their best, but scored the goals that mattered.

There were a number of stand-out performers at the Bernabeu yesterday, but Antonio Rudiger was definitely the cut above the rest with a superb all-round performance for Chelsea.

The German bagged a crucial second goal against Madrid last night, but was also impressive with his  forward runs. He was likewise up to the task of winning duels.

Rudiger finished the game with 123 touches, completing 88 per cent of his passes. The central defender won eight duels alongside four tackles and two clearances.

The 29-year-old was up for the challenge last night, but his only drawback was the costly slip in the box in the lead-up to Benzema’s match-winning header for Madrid in extra-time.

Despite this, it was a ‘world-class performance‘ as described by manager Thomas Tuchel himself. It remains to be seen whether they can keep the defender beyond his contract this summer.

Rudiger had previously been reluctant to accept terms for a renewal, but the club are now restricted from negotiating due to the UK government sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich.

A takeover will pave the way for fresh contract talks, but the German may still demand a significant pay rise. It won’t be a surprise if he leaves on a free transfer when his deal expires.

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