Chelsea gave it a good go against Real Madrid but two second-half goals from Rodrygo confirmed our exit from this season’s Champions League with the Blues once again made to pay for missed chances.

With the game goalless, N’Golo Kante had two very presentable opportunities in the opening stages of each half, while only a brilliant Thibaut Courtois save stopped Marc Cucurella giving us the lead moments before the break.

Real Madrid were not without a threat of their own, but in truth Chelsea merited a lead. We pressed high and efficiently, with Kante’s advanced role causing a nuisance and Reece James floating dangerously in the final third. It was his crosses that set up our three best openings.

But Real are European champions for a reason and they put the tie to bed a quarter-of-an-hour into the second half, Rodrgyo finishing from close range at the end of a fluid move. He repeated the trick 10 minutes from time, and that was that. The Blues had given it everything but come up short.

The teams

Frank Lampard made four changes to the side that started in Madrid. With Ben Chilwell suspended and Kalidou Koulibaly injured, Cucurella and Trevoh Chalobah came in.

Enzo, Mateo Kovacic and Kante all started again, with Kante more advanced than his fellow midfielders. Conor Gallagher and Kai Havertz replaced Joao Felix and Raheem Sterling.

The bench included that pair, who would come on during the second half, as well as youngsters Carney Chukwuemeka and Lewis Hall.

Real Madrid were unchanged from the first leg.

Kante goes close early

Before kick-off Lampard told the media he wanted his wing-backs James and Cucurella to provide attacking width, but what was also apparent was how high he had asked Kante to play. The Frenchman was often ahead of Havertz, with Gallagher on the other side.

It was Kante that had a glorious chance to round off a fine first 10 minutes from Chelsea by scoring the opening goal. James was the supplier from high and wide, his fizzing cross not dealt with, and the loose ball fell invitingly to Kante, who bounced a half-volley into the ground but agonisingly past Thibaut Courtois’ left-hand post.

It was a head on hands moment but the Stamford Bridge faithful roared their support and maintained that noise for the remainder of an engrossing first 45 minutes.

Good work from Kovacic and Havertz down the left created space for the latter to hang a cross up to James, who handled as he tried to bring the ball under his spell from a position in the box at the Matthew Harding end we have seen him score some spectacular European goals.

Early pace slows

It took until the 20th minute for Real Madrid to bare their attacking teeth. Dani Carvajal worked the ball to Rodrygo, who thumped a shot against the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Eder Militao was the first recipient of a yellow card this evening, for hacking down Havertz near the touchline. For the second time already, though, our set-piece did not beat the first man.

Before the half-hour mark, with the frenetic early pace relenting a little, the offside flag was raised after Kepa beat away Vinicius Junior’s shot down one end, and Gallagher headed over at the other.

Our Spaniard did then prevent a goal that would have stood by getting down low to keep out Luka Modric’s shot, the Croatian having glided into the box. Cucurella was next into the book for a foul on halfway.

With half-time approaching, Real opened us up down the right. Modric’s cross reached an unmarked Vinicius, but Wesley Fofana behind him did just enough to put the Brazilian off balance and ensure the contact was not clean.

Courtois thwarts Cucurella

A couple of corners came and went for the Blues, before the half ended as it had began: with a golden Chelsea chance.

We orchestrated an opening for James, whose low centre missed a couple of bodies in the box, reaching an unmarked Cucurella at the far post. Six yards out, he took a touch and thundered a rising shot goalwards only to be denied by a sprawling save by Courtois, who charged out to narrow the angle.

Toni Rudiger replaced David Alaba before the second half commenced, but it was his centre-back partner Militao who prevented Kante breaking the deadlock. Gallagher intelligently nodded the ball back across the six-yard box where Kante couldn’t evade Militao with his shot, the ball skidding wide for a corner.

There was a highly controversial incident on 54 minutes. Chalobah charged forwards down the inside-left channel and beat Militao to the ball with plenty of green grass to then run into. The Real Madrid man cut across Chalobah, bringing him down, but referee Daniele Orsato didn’t think it worthy of what would have been Militao’s second yellow of the game. Frank Lampard and his bench were incensed, and that frustration would soon heighten.

Rodrygo at the double

Havertz glided into the box but straight at Courtois and then came the sucker-punch we dreaded. Rodrygo skipped away from the sliding Chalobah and though Karim Benzema missed his pass, Vinicius calmly rolled it back to Rodrygo who found the net.

Enzo stung Courtois’ palms with a low drive and Benzema couldn’t beat Kepa from much closer in, before Lampard shuffled his pack midway through the second half. On came Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling. Cucurella, Enzo and Gallagher made way, with James moving into central midfield, Sterling and Mudryk at wing-back, and Joao Felix and Kante now operating off Havertz.

Real and Rodrygo’s second on 80 minutes was well worked from front to back. Vinicius found Valverde who skipped past two before squaring for his team-mate to toe-poke into an empty net.

So our European journey is over for another season. The remaining fixtures we have in this campaign are all about trying to ensure we will play on the continent again next term.

What’s next?

The Blues have a rare weekend off, so our next fixture is back here a week tomorrow when our west London neighbours Brentford come to the Bridge.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Kepa; W.Fofana, Thiago Silva (c), Chalobah; James, Enzo (Sterling 67), Kovacic, Cucurella (Mudryk 68); Kante, Gallagher (Joao Felix 67); Havertz (Mount 77)
Unused subs Mendy, Azpilicueta, Hall, Chukwuemeka, Loftus-Cheek, Zakaria, Pulisic, Ziyech
Booked Cucurella 34, James 50, Mudryk 89

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal (Nacho 81), Militao, Alaba (Rudiger h/t), Camavinga; Modric, Valverde, Kroos (Ceballos 76); Rodrygo (Asensio 81), Benzema (c) (Tchouameni 71), Vinicius
Unused subs Lunin, Lopez, Vallejo, Odriozola, Vazquez, Hazard, Diaz
Booked Militao 22
Scorer Rodrygo 58, 80

Referee Daniele Orsato from Italy
Crowd 39,453