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Real Madrid, AC Milan progress to Champions League semifinals

London (AFP) – Real Madrid cruised into the Champions League semi-finals with a 2-0 win against Chelsea on Tuesday that wrapped up an emphatic 4-0 aggregate triumph, effectively ending the struggling London club’s season.

Over in Naples, Olivier Giroud struck the crucial goal for AC Milan, who drew 1-1 with Napoli, and progressed to the last four of the competition for the first time since 2007, with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Wasteful Chelsea punished

Chelsea, with Frank Lampard back in the dugout for a second spell, came into the match at Stamford Bridge with form and history against them.

They started brightly, playing enterprising football, but rued two huge missed chances in the first half that would have heaped pressure on the defending champions.

The Spanish giants made Chelsea pay for their profligacy when Rodrygo scored in the 58th minute and he doubled his tally with 10 minutes to go.

Chelsea, the 2021 European champions, have now lost all four of their matches since Lampard returned to the club as caretaker boss earlier this month in place of the sacked Graham Potter.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti stuck with the same team that won the first leg 2-0 last week while Chelsea caretaker boss Lampard restored Reece James, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante to his line-up.

Roared on by an expectant crowd despite their current woes, the home side made a bright start against the 14-time winners.

They had a glorious chance to take the lead but Kante skewed his left-foot shot wide from about 12 yards.

The visitors, content to bide their time, looked sharp on the break.

Midway through the opening period Rodrygo created space for himself and thumped an effort against the outside of the post from an acute angle, though goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga may have had it covered.

Luka Modric tested Kepa with a shot from an angle and five minutes before half-time Vinicius Junior skewed a shot wide from close range after a cross from the Croatia midfielder.

Chelsea chance

But Chelsea should have been ahead on the stroke of half-time when Reece James fizzed a ball across the box from the right and it fell to Marc Cucurella at the back post.

The defender took a touch and shot but Thibaut Courtois came flying out of his goal to save.

Kante had another golden opportunity to take the lead early in the second half but his close-range effort hit Eder Militao and deflected away to safety.

Real took the wind out of Chelsea’s sails with just over half an hour to go, when Rodrygo scored from close range after an assist by Vinicius.

Lampard made a number of attacking subsitutions, bringing on Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix and Mykhailo Mudryk in a desperate bid to get back into the match.

But Rodrygo found the net again in the 80th minute, tapping home after a clever assist from Federico Valverde.

Milan see off Napoli

Giroud tapped in what turned out to be the decisive goal two minutes before the break after a blistering run from Rafael Leao, who was once again key as Milan beat Napoli for the third time this month.

The France striker’s 13th goal of the season saved his blushes after he missed a penalty midway through the first half.

Stefano Pioli’s side now have the prospect of a local derby in the last four as Inter Milan hold a two-goal lead ahead of their second leg with Benfica on Wednesday night.

Milan have not contested a Champions League semi-final since they were crowned kings of Europe for the seventh and most recent time in 2007.

Victor Osimhen scored in stoppage time but it was not enough for Napoli who are creaking as they come towards the end of what has been a phenomenal season.

Luciano Spalletti’s once freewheeling team are now struggling for goals and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia also had his own penalty saved with 10 minutes remaining, a miss which condemned his team to defeat.

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