Real Madrid, AC Milan reach Champions League semifinals

Sports Desk, Apr 18 (EFE).- Real Madrid and AC Milan advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League on Tuesday at the expense of Chelsea and Napoli, respectively.

While the Blancos are pursuing a record-extending 15th Champions League title, AC Milan reached the round of 16 this year for the first time in eight years and last hoisted the trophy in 2007.

Next up for Real Madrid will be the winners of the Manchester City-Bayern Munich tie, which the English side lead 3-0 going into Wednesday’s second leg.

The other semifinal could be a Milan derby, as Inter are up 2-0 over Benfica ahead of the second leg at the San Siro.

With a 2-0 advantage after the first leg in Madrid, the Blancos withstood a Chelsea onslaught in front of an energized crowd at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were the more threatening side for long stretches, but failed to put anything past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who won two Premier League titles with Chelsea before moving to Real Madrid in 2018.

The hosts best chance of narrowing the deficit came in the 12th minute, when the ball ended up at the feet of an unmarked N’Golo Kante just 11 yards from goal only for the midfielder to scuff the shot.

Chelsea keeper Kepa denied Rodrygo and Luka Modric before Marc Cucurella forced a stop from Courtois right before the break.

As the match approached the hour mark, Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah failed to cut off a ball from Eder Militao to Rodrygo, who steamed into the offensive zone and cut back for Karim Benzema.

The pass missed the Frenchman but found Vinicius Jr., who set up Brazilian countryman Rodrygo to make it 1-0 on the night and 3-0 overall.

Rodrygo scored again in the 80th minute to bring his total in 37 Champions League appearances to 15 goals.

Napoli are all but assured of winning their first Serie A crown since 1990, but they saw their hopes of a treble evaporate months ago with elimination from the Coppa Italia.

Trailing Milan by just a goal after the first leg, they and their supporters at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona remained hopeful about the chances for a double.

The home side dominated possession – 74 percent – and outshot the Rossoneri 23-6, yet the first serious scoring opportunity went to the visitors.

Mario Rui fouled Milan’s Rafael Leao in the box in the 21st minute and the referee pointed to the spot, but Napoli keeper Alex Meret guessed correctly and stopped Olivier Giroud’s shot.

Despite the missed penalty, Milan appeared to grow more confident as the first half wore on and Giroud extended the advantage to 2-0 in the 43rd minute with an assist from Leao, who drove the ball nearly the length of the pitch before passing to the Frenchman after Meret came off his line.

Victor Osimhen thought he had halved the deficit deep in first half stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed because the ball hit his arm before he took the shot.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Napoli’s most dynamic attacker on the night, got a chance from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute after the unfortunate Fikayo Tomori was cited for hand ball, only to see Mike Maignan make the save.

Three minutes into stoppage time, Osimhen broke his scoring jinx against the Rossoneri with a thumping header to make it 2-1 for the visitors, and that’s how they ended. EFE msg-tfc/dr

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