Thomas Tuchel accused referees of lacking the courage to give decisions against Real Madrid as holders Chelsea were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after losing 5-4 on aggregate.
Chelsea won 3-2 on the night after a late goal from substitute Rodrygo forced extra-time. Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema linked up again in extra time to send Madrid through to the semi-finals.
Following the game, Tuchel said: “I was disappointed that the referee had a good time with Carlo. I think this is the wrong time to do this after the final whistle, 126 minutes of a team giving their heart, and when I went to say thank you, he was smiling and laughing with the opponent’s coach. It’s bad timing. I told him this.”
Chelsea led 3-0 on the night. Mason Mount opened the scoring for the visitors after a clinical finish from 18 yards in the 15th minute. Antonio Rudiger headed home from a Mount corner in the 51st minute before Timo Werner kept his composure and netted home the third in the 75th minute, which gave Chelsea the lead on aggregate. VAR ruled out a Marcos Alonso goal for an alleged handball.
Chelsea were the dominant side for most of the second leg. Tuchel praised his player’s efforts. He said: “These are the kind of defeats we can digest and swallow.
“We left nothing to regret out there. We played what we wanted to play, with the quality and the character this team has. We deserved to go through, we were unlucky, and it wasn’t to be.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side came in the second leg with an advantage after Benzema’s heroics in the first leg, who was a constant menace to the Chelsea backline before he headed Madrid into the last four in the 96th minute. Rodrygo enforced extra time as he scored with his first touch of the game just two minutes after he appeared from the bench. The goal was made special by veteran midfielder Luka Modric’s exquisite pass from the outside of the right boot. Rodrygo just had to make sure he connected with the ball to put it past Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy.
Real Madrid manager Ancelotti said: “The magic of the Bernabeu helps the players and the team a lot to never give up. We have to be proud of what we did, we played a very tough round of 16 against PSG, now against the defending champions Chelsea in the quarter-finals to go through the semi-finals, so I can’t be happier.”
Chelsea defender Rudiger, who is expected to join Real Madrid after his contract runs out at the end of this season, said: “The positive is we didn’t give up. Not many teams can dominate as we did. But the big thing is over the two legs, if you make these mistakes that we do, you get punished.”
Ancelotti has qualified for the champions league semi-final eighth time in his career, the joint-most record by a coach alongside Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.