Chelsea, Benfica advance to Champions League last 8

Sports Desk, Mar 7 (EFE).- Chelsea blanked Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League knockout stage tie to win 2-1 on aggregate, while Benfica thrashed Club Brugge 5-1 for a 7-1 triumph.

The Blues, who hoisted the trophy in 2021, are through to the quarterfinals for a third straight year. Benfica, whose last European title was in 1962, have reached the last eight for the second consecutive year.

Dortmund came into the contest at Stamford Bridge looking to extend their winning streak to 11 matches in all competitions, but injuries forced them to do without starting goalkeeper Gregor Kobel and the author of the winning goal in the first leg, Karim Adeyemi.

The visitors lost another starter just five minutes in, as midfielder Julian Brandt hobbled off the field to be replaced by US international Gio Reyna.

Even so, Dortmund had most of the ball in the early going and created the first chance, a shot by Marco Reus that forced an outstanding save from Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

At the other end, visiting keeper Alexander Meyer denied Joao Felix before watching the post turn aside a strike from Kai Havertz in the 28th minute.

Havertz put the ball in the net 10 minutes later, but the goal was disallowed because Raheem Sterling was offside.

With two minutes left in first-half regulation, Ben Chilwell found Sterling in the box and after misfiring on his first attempt, the striker beat Meyer to level the tie at 1-1.

Early in the second half, Chelsea clamored for a penalty after Chilwell’s attempt at a cross bounced off the arm of Dortmund defender Marius Wolf.

The referee didn’t see it, but VAR intervened and awarded the penalty.

The Blues’ long-time penalty taker, Jorginho, left in January for Arsenal, and the task fell to Havertz, who hit the post.

Yet again, VAR would come to the aid of the hosts, detecting encroachment by Dortmund. Havertz, undaunted by the miss, sent his shot to exactly the same corner and converted to give Chelsea a 2-1 edge.

Jude Bellingham fired wide in the 58th minute on what would prove to be Dortmund’s best opportunity to force the game into extra-time.

In Lisbon, Benfica, who went unbeaten in the group stage against opponents such as Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, started Tuesday with a 2-0 advantage after the first leg in Bruges.

By half-time, the margin was 4-0 on goals by Rafa Silva and Goncalo Ramos, who stretched the lead to five when he completed the double in the 57th minute.

Joao Maria converted a penalty in the 71st and David Neres added a fifth goal six minutes later.

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