UCL Report: Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid

Karim Benzema was the star of the show at Stamford Bridge, as he watched Real Madrid guide Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday night.

The match started off fun, with both sides open to attack right from the start. It was the hosts who fired the first kick when Kai Havertz hit the ball from inside the penalty area in the fifth minute.

Although visitors are not far behind. Vinicius Junior almost opened the scoring in the tenth minute after a quick break from Madrid. Karim Benzema stopped his back with a pass by Fed Valverde, who shot at Vinicius. The Brazilian’s shot was good, but it hit the crossbar.

A few minutes later, Real Madrid panicked at the back as Eder Militao closely avoided the red card. Havertz pounced on a loose pass and was brought down by the central defender outside the penalty area. Although the referee was somewhat lenient, showing only a yellow card even though Militao was likely to be the last player. Reece James saved the free kick that followed.

The match remained from its end, and Real Madrid took the opportunity to open the scoring in the 21st minute. Toni Kroos played the ball away to Vinicius, who exchanged passes with Benzema to advance to the right wing. The Brazilian crossed towards the penalty kick as Benzema ran towards it to score with an excellent header past Edward Mendy.

Three minutes later, the French striker doubled his tally and Madrid. It was another great header she did for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, this time from Luka Modric’s cross. The duo was instrumental in the victory over Paris Saint-Germain, and he showed his class again at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid continued to dominate, with Dani Carvajal and Militao close. Chelsea persevered and managed to turn the tide in the last five minutes of the half. At first, Thiago Silva headed off a Mason Mount corner and after that, Havertz halved the difference. James passed inside to Jorginho, who cut a superb pass for the German striker to header on his own.

Chelsea almost awarded the two goals right at the full-back, a quick rebound from Madrid that led to a huge opportunity for Benzema but his shot from the right side of the penalty area was wide. Havertz got another chance, but he shot and headed in the first half, separated by a goal.

The break made Madrid much better as they came out sharper and regained their cushion within a minute. Edward Mendy played a very poor pass for Antonio Rudiger and the German did not do himself any favors. Benzema seized the opportunity and passed the empty net from 30 yards to complete a hat-trick.

Chelsea tried to respond and was almost effective in reducing the difference to one in the 50th minute. Carvajal stopped Havertz’s shot and the ball fell in front of Cesar Azpliciota. The Chelsea captain lined up for a shot in the top corner but Courtois saved it with one hand.

Thomas Tuchel threw Romelu Lukaku to add momentum to attack and the Belgian should have done so in the 69th minute. Azpilicueta’s cross shot off Valverde and fell gently towards Lukaku at the edge of the six-yard box. Although his header was the worst of the night, he failed Courtois’ test when he should have shot into the net.

And Mount Courtois hit a minute later with a quick shot from distance as Chelsea continued his shot away. Havertz, who is arguably Chelsea’s best player, hit his shot straight at Courtois from inside the penalty area. Mountain got a dangerous shot that was well blocked from a tight angle on the left.

Courtois had to be alert again as Rhys James tried his luck from distance with a low shot that had to be cleared. Real Madrid managed to contain the hosts on half the chances, and witnessed the match 3-1.

Here are the main points from the match –

golden benz

A Champions League hat-trick is rare enough. Two in the same campaign were done by only five players. Back-to-back hat tricks in the knockout rounds have only been performed once by Cristiano Ronaldo. And it was his former colleague Karim Benzema who imitated the Portuguese on Wednesday evening with a distinguished performance.

The Frenchman has been in exceptional form this season, scoring 11 of 8 in the Champions League and 24 of 26 in La Liga, along with 11 assists. The fact that he did that, at the age of 34, in Real Madrid’s still-running squad is astounding. Two more shows like this, and Benzema could become the early leader of the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

individual dominates

Despite Thomas Tuchel’s dedication to developing a working system for Chelsea, it was individual brilliance, or lack thereof, that decided the match. Benzema put in an outstanding performance and much of the Chelsea defense was having a night to forget.

Silva, who is usually lively, lost to Benzema to score the second goal. Rudiger did not show his usual strong nature. Even Edward Mendy, who has been exceptionally consistent over the past year and a half, made a fatal mistake in third place for Real Madrid. The match was a showcase for why the Champions League doesn’t always reward the best ‘team’.

The second leg is hot

Real Madrid exited England with a healthy two-goal lead, but they know that the confrontation is not over yet. Chelsea showed dangerous signs when attacking and Ancelotti can only count on the genius of his players so much. Fewer mistakes at the Bernabeu than Chelsea and they could have changed that well.

However, Tuchel will need his players to turn it around if they are to contain Messrs. Benzema, Modric and Co, both teams have a week to get their tactics appropriate for the second leg.