Despite defeating Real Madrid on a night of tremendous drama at the Bernabeu Stadium, Chelsea’s run as European champions came to an agonising conclusion.
In a Champions League epic, Mason Mount’s magnificent finish and Antonio Rudiger’s thunderous header wiped away Real’s 3-1 first-leg advantage and levelled the quarter-final tie in Spain’s capital.
Thomas Tuchel’s side was excellent throughout, and Timo Werner’s smart angle finish put them ahead on aggregate for the first time, putting them in contention for a place in the semi-finals.
Substitute Rodrygo forced extra time with a volleyed strike following a fantastic cross from Luka Modric, before Karim Benzema, who scored a hat-trick in the first leg at Stamford Bridge six days earlier, headed the winning goal in the 96th minute to put Real through 5-4 on aggregate.
After Rudiger slipped inside the area, Benzema, who had earlier headed against the bar on a rollercoaster night, was unmarked when he scored to break Chelsea’s hearts.
Chelsea’s progression into the semi-finals would be equivalent to the best Hollywood scenario, according to Tuchel, who declared on the night of the game.
His players came close to producing a blockbuster in their debut game in European competition at the Bernabeu, displaying amazing fight and belief – qualities that were lacking in the first leg.
This tense match had everything, including a Marcos Alonso goal at 2-0 that was ruled out for handball by the video assistant referee.
Chelsea does not have much time to heal from their exit from Europe as they prepare for their second trip to Wembley this season.
On Sunday (16:30 BST), they take on Crystal Palace in an FA Cup semi-final, which is their last chance to win a major domestic title.
Despite winning the Fifa Club World Cup and the Uefa Super Cup, they lost a penalty shootout to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final and are now 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with only eight games remaining.
Real Madrid 3-2 Chelsea (agg: 5-4 aet): The Blues are eliminated from the Champions League. Neil Johnston contributed to this article.