Riyad Mahrez could reportedly be sold by Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, and some of the world's biggest clubs are said to be targeting the Algerian.

Mahrez, 31, has won the Premier League on three occasions, including once with Leicester City, and will make it four this season if Pep Guardiola's team can hold on.

After 38 Premier League goals for Mahrez over four campaigns with City, he could be facing a new challenge next season.


TOP STORY – MAHREZ MOVE TO MAKE WAY FOR HAALAND

Fichajes.net is reporting that Mahrez is one of the players City could part ways with to help fund the purchase of Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

The report names Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as the three most likely landing spots.

Mahrez has scored 23 goals and dished out eight assists in 42 appearances across all club competitions this season.


ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are said to be closing in on a deal to sign Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer. The Guardian is reporting his contract will be worth at least £200,000 per week.

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester City are interested in making a move for West Ham's Declan Rice.

– According to Marca, Real Madrid remain favourites to land Kylian Mbappe when he is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, but he will not make an official announcement until after the last game of his Ligue 1 season on May 21.

– Sky Sports News is reporting that Lionel Messi will remain at Paris Saint-Germain for at least one more season but that the French giants could consider letting Neymar move on.

– Barcelona would be willing to sell Frenkie de Jong for £58million, with Manchester United reportedly interested in bringing in the Dutch midfielder, according to El Chiringuito.

Barcelona director Mateu Alemany has confirmed holding talks with Antonio Rudiger's agent, but insists the Chelsea defender's future was not discussed during the meeting.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed following Sunday's late win over West Ham that Rudiger intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tuchel suggested that Rudiger's decision was influenced by the financial restrictions imposed on Chelsea while a new owner to succeed Roman Abramovich is being sought.

Barcelona are one of a number of teams to have been linked with the Germany international, along with fierce rivals Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking ahead of Barca's home LaLiga clash with Rayo Vallecano later on Sunday, Alemany was probed about his side's reported interest in the centre-back.

"We had a meeting with his agent, but he also represents other players," Alemany told Movistar. 

"We didn't talk about his situation, but about many other things because his agent represents many players. It's the house rule not to talk about players from other clubs."

Barca have had to contend with financial limitation of their own, yet they were still able to sign Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dani Alves and Adama Traore in January.

And the Catalan giants, who will end 2021-22 trophyless, are expected to be busy in the upcoming transfer window.

"We already have advanced ideas," Alemany said. "We will make a collective evaluation when the league ends or when our position is definitively set.

"Last summer was complicated as we were blocked at the 'fair play' level. Now we are satisfied with the coaching staff and we intend to make a leap in quality. 

"Our desire is to make a competitive team for next year."

Lewis Hamilton is excited to be a part of Martin Broughton's consortium looking to purchase Chelsea.

Hamilton, 37, has earned nearly $500million in his Formula 1 career, and is teaming up with a number of wealthy businessmen and women – including Serena Williams – as one of three remaining bids for the club.

Hamilton and Williams will reportedly be chipping in $10m each in the offer, after plenty of discussion between the two sporting legends, as well as personal phone calls from Broughton.

Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy, Hamilton was overjoyed at the prospect of being involved with football at the highest level, and said his allegiance to Arsenal is no hindrance.

"I’ve been a football fan since I was a kid," he said. "I played since I was a kid, from four to 17 in teams every year.

"I played every year through childhood and went to numerous games, when I was young. I used to play football as a kid around the corner and I really wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of colour there.

"All the kids supported someone different, and I switched between these teams, and when I’d get home my sister would hit me, saying you have to support Arsenal. At five, six years old I supported Arsenal, but my uncle Terry is a big Blues fan, so I’ve been to so many games to watch Chelsea and Arsenal play. 

"Ultimately, [I’m] a sporting fan and Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in the world. When I heard about this I thought, ‘Wow – what a great opportunity to be a part of'."

Hamilton went on to discuss his role in Williams' decision, confirming the two had discussed it together.

"We did speak about it, we were constantly in touch," he said. "She asked me my thoughts, and I told her I’ll be a part of it, and she decided to join.

"We were contacted and Sir Martin spoke to me on the phone, explaining his and his team’s goals if they were to win the bid – which was incredibly exciting, and very much aligned with my values. 

"When I was younger I was trying to actually play for a team – I tried out for Stevenage – but I ended up following racing. I could have only ever dreamed of being a part of the team, so that’s for me the most exciting thing."

New investment at Milan could see the Italian powerhouse target the best players across Europe's top clubs.

Milan have entered into exclusive talks with Bahrain-based asset manager Investcorp over a takeover.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Isco and Liverpool's Divock Origi already.

TOP STORY – STERLING ON MILAN WISH LIST

Milan are monitoring Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The England international is among a list of players that Milan would like to sign amid a reported lucrative takeover by a Bahrain-based organisation.

Sterling's current contract with City expires in 2023, but the Daily Mail claims he would turn down the Italian move.

 

ROUND-UP

 Christian Eriksen is gaining interest from former employers Tottenham after a good run of form, although his agent is set to meet with Brentford at the end of this season to formalise his future, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will hold talks at the end of this season to discuss his future having struggled for opportunities, reports Football.London.

– Jose Mourinho's Roma will open talks with Nemanja Matic's representatives as the Serbian midfielder prepares to leave Manchester United, reports Nicolo Schira.

– Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have revived their interest in Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

Thomas Tuchel is still demanding "special things" from his Chelsea side despite third place in the Premier League appearing secure.

Chelsea reached the FA Cup final with victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday, having crashed out of the Champions League following extra-time heartbreak against Real Madrid in their quarter-final tie.

But Tuchel's side look to have little to play for in the league, with top two Liverpool and Manchester City seemingly out of reach while Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United fight for fourth.

Chelsea are five points clear of fourth-placed Spurs, who have played two games more, and eight clear of Arsenal and United heading into the final weeks of the season.

But the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund coach assured he wants more from his side ahead of a clash with Arsenal, who Chelsea could complete their first league double over since 2015-16.

"I'm not sure we don't become second or fourth," Tuchel told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"So we will fight hard. We have a crucial four matches coming in a short period of time with Arsenal, West Ham, Man United and Everton.

"These are crucial matches for us given the task and what we want to achieve.

"It's a big challenge physically but mentally to dive into the main competition that is Premier League. It seems like things are pretty safe, but things can change so, so quickly.

"We want to demand it from the team, and it is challenging for everybody, but at the same time, it's what you sign up for when you sign up for Chelsea.

"We demand special things because we want to be a special group, we have the trust in the players that they can compete and overcome teams who are better prepared, have more days to prepare and less games in their legs.

"It's on us to push the standards and to push the level."

Chelsea have lost their past two home games in all competitions, against Brentford and Madrid, and will look to avoid a third straight defeat for the first time since November 1993, when the third reverse was against Arsenal.

However, the Blues could be forgiven for turning their attention elsewhere, with an FA Cup final against Liverpool coming in May.

Jurgen Klopp's side claimed victory on penalties when the two met in the EFL Cup final in February, and Tuchel acknowledged he will be out to make amends at Wembley Stadium.

"Of course, we feel it. It was only some weeks ago we lost in the same stadium," he said of the loss to Liverpool.

"In sports, if you lost against a team so recently, you want to turn things around quick. If you call it revenge or not, it doesn't matter, but we all have these competitive feelings."

One of world football's hottest commodities, Erling Haaland, is reportedly set to join Manchester City in the next transfer window after agreeing to personal terms.

It has long been understood that Haaland would likely not return to Borussia Dortmund for another season, with the Bundesliga club entertaining offers from the world's biggest clubs.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were considered Manchester City's biggest competition for the Norway forward's signature, but a massive contract, recent success and close personal ties to his father seem to have been the deciding factors.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND CHOOSES MANCHESTER CITY

The Daily Mail is reporting Haaland has agreed to a deal with Manchester City that will make him the highest-paid player in the Premier League at £500,000 per week.

With terms agreed, City are expected to trigger Haaland's £62.2million (€75m) release clause and sign him to a five-year deal, which could be announced in the next week.

His father, Alf-Inge Haaland, played at Manchester City from 2000-2003 and is said to have been "heavily involved in the negotiations".

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Goal, Real Madrid did not want to unsettle their dressing room by signing Haaland and making him the highest-paid player.

– Fichajes is reporting Real Madrid's attention will turn to Manchester United's Edinson Cavani now Haaland is out of the picture, while The Mirror claims Madrid have strong interest in Chelsea right-back Reece James.

Liverpool target Serge Gnabry is discussing a contract extension with Bayern Munich, according to Goal.

West Ham are hoping to add Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, with the England international likely to leave the club if they are relegated, per the Daily Mail.

Arsenal are in the box seat to land Marco Asensio from Real Madrid after Milan rejected his wage demands, reports CalcioMercato.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel told reporters he is not interested in Liverpool's hunt for a quadruple this season, and also gave credit to Timo Werner for finding form after the Blues' 2-0 FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

Against Crystal Palace, Chelsea controlled throughout, with 67 per cent possession and double the amount of shots, but did not break the deadlock until the 65th minute through Ruben Loftus-Cheek, before Mason Mount doubled the advantage in the 76th minute.

With the win, they earned a spot in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley on May 14. It is Chelsea's third consecutive season making the final, losing 2-1 to Arsenal in 2020, and losing 1-0 against Leicester City in 2021.

Liverpool is still alive in the Premier League and Champions League, and beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup, but Tuchel was not interested in discussing their potentially history-making season.

"I don’t care about [Liverpool's] other titles," he said.

"Of course, we lost a [Carabao Cup] final [to Liverpool]. We gave everything in that final, as you know, until the very last penalty. 

"We were unlucky and lost. We want to turn things around, but it will not give us the Carabao Cup title back.

"We were in the FA Cup final last season and we’re here again, it means unbelievably a lot to us.

"We will be well-prepared against one of the strongest teams in the world, who are in outstanding form given their results… it will be a tough one, [but] we will try to make life hard for them."

Tuchel also touched on the improving form of his striker after a slow start to the season, and his Chelsea career in general.

"We had a bit of a change in formation up front, so he played against Southampton, and [Werner] played alongside Kai [Havertz], with Mason [Mount] and Mateo Kovacic around him," he said.

"He likes that a lot, and has a good connection with them, so that was maybe the turnaround point for him. 

"He scored and had big chances. He was decisive in Madrid, and could have been the hero with the third goal, but unfortunately not. But he was involved; he scored, was involved, created chances and spaces, and did again today. 

"It was very hard to find spaces today and be decisive, but he assisted the second goal. Timo at the moment is a huge part [and deserves his place] in the team."

Chelsea star Mason Mount believes it is time for the Blues to win a final at Wembley.

Thomas Tuchel's side recovered from Champions League extra-time heartbreak against Real Madrid by coasting past Crystal Palace to reach a third successive FA Cup final on Sunday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck with 25 minutes remaining as he slammed in his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, while Mount made sure of victory with a second nine minutes later.

The pair became the first English duo to score in a club game at Wembley for the Blues since Peter Houseman and Ian Hutchinson netted in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United.

However, Mount does not have too many fond memories of England's national stadium, where he has lost an EFL Cup and two FA Cup finals, along with the Euro 2020 showpiece with England.

The 23-year-old was also a part of Derby County's Championship play-off final side that lost to Aston Villa in 2018-19, taking his tally at Wembley to five losses – a record he wants to overturn.

"It is a game we used to bounce back. It was a very, very tough game. They made it very difficult for us. They have some top players. It wasn't easy," he told ITV Sport after the game.

"The way we came through it we showed character.

"I am buzzing for Rubes [Loftus-Cheek]. He is a top, top player. He comes on in a difficult game and steps up. He is dominant and the way he drives the ball forward helps us. He was brilliant today.

"Timo Werner is brilliant, he has done so well the last couple of games. He had a chance in the second half that he missed but then ran all the way back to win the ball and that shows the player he is.

"It is time for us to win a final at Wembley. It is five finals I have lost, so we have to put the pressure on us to step up."

Chelsea now have to overcome Liverpool, who defeated the Blues on penalties in the EFL Cup final in February.

Indeed, it will be just the second time two sides will contest both the EFL Cup and FA Cup final in the same campaign after 1992-93, when Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday did so, with the Gunners winning both trophies that year.

Thomas Tuchel expressed his delight with a "controlled and serious" performance that guided Chelsea into the FA Cup final.

Chelsea reached a third successive FA Cup final, matching the feat achieved by Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03, with a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring in the 65th minute with his first goal in any competition since November 2020, before Mason Mount sealed semi-final success with 14 minutes remaining.

The 2021-22 campaign now marks Mount's new-best scoring season, with his 12th strike this term surpassing his 11-goal haul for Championship side Derby County in 2018-19.

Tuchel, who has progressed from each of the 11 semi-final ties in his managerial career, congratulated his players for their efforts amid a hectic schedule, with Chelsea having slipped out of the Champions League after going to extra-time against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

"It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions," Tuchel told ITV Sport. 

"It is not always easy, very challenging physically, we are the team with the most minutes in Europe I think, it is also challenging mentally.

"I thought the performance was very controlled and very serious, we took care of their counter-attacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute."

Tuchel also reserved special praise for Loftus-Cheek, who scored his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, when he netted in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start," said Tuchel.

"We knew Ruben would have a big impact off the bench. I am very happy.

"He hid his talent and potential for a long time in his career. He is capable of producing performances that everyone sees on the pitch. For him, it is step by step that he continues to grow in his confidence."

 

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool stand in the way of Chelsea in the final, and it will be the second time the same two sides have competed in the EFL Cup and FA Cup showpiece events in the same season, after Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday met in both competitions in 1992-93.

Tuchel, though, cannot wait to renew his battle with the quadruple-hunting Liverpool, who ran out penalty shoot-out victors in the EFL Cup in late February and defeated Premier League title rivals Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final.

"I am happy to be part of it again, I cannot be more excited and more proud because it is a huge competition. We will be ready," he added.

Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.

Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.

But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.

It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.

Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.

Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.

Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.

Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Romelu Lukaku should look at Timo Werner for inspiration if he plays any part in Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.

Werner has endured a largely difficult time at Stamford Bridge since arriving from RB Leipzig in June 2020, but he has shone in the past week.

He followed up a brace in the 6-0 Premier League win over Southampton last weekend with another goal in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg win at Real Madrid in midweek.

Like Werner, Lukaku has had difficulties since joining the club from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

He has scored just five goals and registered zero assists in his 12 Premier League starts, while he has created only 16 opportunities and converted 17.2 per cent of his 29 shots, just 11 of which have been on target.

Lukaku's 12 goals in all competitions only marginally exceeds his expected goals (xG) of 11.8, however, showing he is at least scoring at a rate that reflects the quality of chances that have come his way.

But the fact his xG is not higher suggests a lack of cohesion between Lukaku and his team-mates.

The Belgium international has missed Chelsea's last two games through injury, although he returned to training this week and is expected to play some part in Sunday's last-four clash at Wembley.

 

Asked if the 28-year-old needs to emulate Werner if he is selected against Palace, Tuchel told a media conference: "For sure. He had a huge chance against Real Madrid [at home] and things can go so fast.

"Nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header in the first leg.

"It is exactly what he needs to do. Wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds.

"Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments. Whole careers can be upside down and in any direction but always as a striker you can have a chance to put things into your favour, as a substitute or if you have the chance to perform from the beginning."

Chelsea have won each of their last nine fixtures with Palace, all coming in the Premier League.

In the club's history, they have enjoyed five separate instances of 10 or more successive wins against an opponent, most recently a run of 11 versus Brighton and Hove Albion between 1967 and 2019.

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he explained to Conor Gallagher in person why Chelsea could not allow the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder to play in their FA Cup semi-final.

Chelsea meet Palace in the last four of the competition at Wembley on Sunday, but breakout star Gallagher will be merely a spectator.

The England international belongs to Chelsea but is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, instead establishing himself as a top Premier League midfielder for Palace this season.

Gallagher has scored eight goals and provided five assists in all competitions in 2021-22, including two assists in four FA Cup matches prior to the semis.

That sort of form shows why Chelsea could not accommodate Palace's request to allow him to play this weekend. The Blues have won both matches against Palace in his absence this season, extending a winning run in the fixture to nine games.

"I had the chance to speak to Conor and I could also see his frustration," Tuchel said ahead of the match. "We met some weeks ago, after the international break, by coincidence in a restaurant.

"We had a chat, and the subject came up. I apologised, because I know how competitive he is, and I like him a lot. I know his character very well, and it was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season.

"This is the way it is. We play to win the game. The rules were clear when we made the loan.

"I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor, but these were the rules when we made the loan, and we don't want to suffer from our rules."

 

Chelsea must still take on an England international brought through their academy, however, with Marc Guehi a permanent Palace signing last year.

Guehi, like Gallagher, has impressed at Palace, while Tino Livramento has been one of Southampton's star performers this season, but Tuchel explained their sales could not be reassessed with hindsight.

"It's a decision we took together. We are happy about these decisions," he said. "We cannot go back and reflect, because at the point where we took the decision it was the right thing to do, given the circumstances.

"It's very individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, for example, we had a plan and we preferred a loan, but he saw his future to go, and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.

"For Marc, it is a fantastic development. It's very hard or maybe even impossible to say if we had kept him he would be better or worse or the same. Maybe he needed exactly that, maybe he needed a change of environment, maybe he needed a different club, maybe he needed a bigger role, more minutes to develop your full potential.

"It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and if you have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match your expectations or even over-perform.

"It's nice to see there are so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are very well aware of it, and it's also nice to play against them and see them develop."

Chelsea still have academy graduates in their first team, with Mason Mount leading the way in terms of goal involvements (25 – 11 goals, 14 assists) this term.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (31), Reece James (30), Callum Hudson-Odoi (28) and Trevoh Chalobah (26) have each made more than 25 appearances for the Blues in 2021-22.

"We will always use as many academy players as possible," Tuchel said.

"Like I said many times before, it makes the club very special and makes every team in the world very special if you have the mix between world-class players, between big personalities from abroad, from outside the club, with the academy boys.

"I think it's very important also with the academy boys to match the level, to realise the level of commitment, of professionalism of players who come from other clubs, who bring the best of their cultures.

"It's very, very important for our youngsters to accept that mix and accept that challenge. Then it can be very special. This is what makes teams special, that there are players from the academy."

Luka Modric described Real Madrid's 3-2 loss to Chelsea on Tuesday that sent them through the Champions League semi-finals as a "defeat that is very sweet."

An uncharacteristically poor performance that led to a 3-1 loss in the first leg at Stamford Bridge meant Chelsea had the proverbial mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Yet the Blues took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, putting them up 4-3 on aggregate, before Eduardo Camavinga's substitution for Toni Kroos and Modric's sublime assist for Rodrygo changed the complexion of the game and tie. Karim Benzema's goal in extra time eventually separated the two sides.

The Croatia international said afterwards that, given his familiarity with Chelsea, he knew the return leg was not going to be routine.

"We knew after the first leg that we will have a tough game, because for me, they [Chelsea] are the most difficult team to play against," Modric told BT Sport. "I watch them a lot because of my friend Mateo [Kovacic] and they are a very tough, physical team, very compact and we knew it was going to be tough.

"In the end, we showed great character, great desire, great togetherness and we managed to turn it around, which is amazing. A defeat that is very sweet."

Tuesday's game resembled the first leg in last year's Champions League semi-final between the two, with Chelsea pressing intensely and piercing through in transition.

Thomas Tuchel's side dictated a very high tempo early, but Madrid were able to feel their way through the game, making sufficient adjustments and gaining momentum late.

"Unbelievable to describe this game. We were dead until the goal we scored," Modric said. "Chelsea scored three good goals, maybe the first goal was a bit lucky with the deflection, but I cannot say that we played a bad game."

According to Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, his side levelling on aggregate took momentum away from Chelsea, while also saving particular praise for the 36-year-old Ballon d'Or winner.

"The changes were important, in retrospect I must say that with the goal of 3-1, they took a good blow on a psychological level," he said.

"Modric was amazing with that assist, from there we build the second goal and then we managed."

Karim Benzema's extra-time goal put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals despite a 3-2 defeat to holders Chelsea on Tuesday.

Goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner overturned Real Madrid’s 3-1 advantage from the first leg last week, but Rodrygo’s sublime volley forced the tie into extra time.

Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, had the final say, though, thundering home a header six minutes into extra time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory. 

Carlo Ancelotti's side will now face either Atletico Madrid or Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Chelsea's strong start was rewarded in the 15th minute when Mount curled past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area after latching onto Werner's nudged ball forward.

Madrid struggled to break Chelsea's stubborn backline down in the first half, with Ancelotti's men going in at the break without a shot on target to their name. 

Chelsea levelled the tie on aggregate six minutes into the second half, Rudiger planting a powerful header past Courtois from Mount's cross. 

Alonso thought he had edged Chelsea in front 11 minutes later when he thumped into the top corner from eight yards, yet his effort was ruled out for handball following a VAR check. 

Benzema crashed a header against the crossbar soon after, before Werner put Chelsea ahead on aggregate in the 75th minute with a strike that proved too hot for Courtois to handle. 

Madrid clawed their way back into the tie with 10 minutes remaining, though, as Rodrygo, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, steered a superb volley past Edouard Mendy from Luka Modric's breathtaking cross. 

That set the stage for Benzema's decisive goal in additional time, the France international heading past Mendy from 10 yards out following fine work down the left by Vinicius Junior. 

 

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