Real Madrid in control of Champions League tie against 10-man Chelsea with a 2 nil victory
Chelsea will need to pull off a famous Champions League comeback in the second leg of their quarter-final showdown with Real Madrid after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the first half with his 20th goal against English opposition and Frank Lampard’s side were forced to withstand a huge amount of pressure against the reigning holders.
The contest was more evenly poised in the second period but a red card for Ben Chilwell saw the momentum swing back towards Real, with Marco Asensio doubling the hosts’ advantage 15 minutes later, and they now take a healthy lead to Stamford Bridge next week.
Chelsea were given plenty of room to counter-attack into early on at the Bernabeu and Joao Felix was played clean through inside the first few minutes, though fluffed his lines. The failure to capitalise on the space afforded to them would quickly come back to haunt the visitors.
In the 21st minute, Dani Carvajal clipped a lovely pass in behind Chelsea’s defence for the lively Vinicius Junior, whose volley was only palmed into the path of Benzema who poked into an empty net from close range.
The west Londoners had an opportunity to restore parity almost immediately afterwards following a wicked delivery into the box from Reece James, but Raheem Sterling’s flick was well saved by Thibaut Courtois at his near post.
Suddenly the match was becoming a drawn out, end-to-end affair and Vinicius was causing havoc; an early ball released the Brazilian on the half-way line and he drove into the box, jinking past Wesley Fofana before seeing a dinked effort cleared off the line by Thiago Silva.
Real had further chances before the half-time break, with Benzema, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde all stinging the palms of Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Lampard will have been glad to make it to half-time only one goal down after facing eight shots on target.
Chelsea made a promising start to the second half, with Felix rifling an effort towards goal from long range, though they were nearly undone by a long kick from Courtois which forced Kalidou Koulibaly to make an excellent recovery challenge – though he injured himself in the process and was withdrawn shortly afterwards.
Vinicius, meanwhile, was continuing to terrorise James and another fleet-footed dribble saw the ball eventually laid off to Luka Modric who was inches away from finding the top corner.
Chelsea’s task was made even harder shortly before the hour-mark when Rodrygo was cynically pulled back by Chilwell when clean through, with the left-back shown a straight red card.
The match then became an exercise in damage limitation, with Lampard replacing his two attackers with Trevoh Chalobah and Kai Havertz.
The Real crowd were sounding a little restless as Chelsea retreated into their own half following the sending off, but the Bernabeu erupted in the 74th minute when substitute Marco Asensio collected Vinicius’ pull-back and fizzed a left-footed effort into the bottom corner that was too strong for Kepa.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side smelt blood now – and a chance to kill of the tie – but Chelsea managed to prevent the contest from turning into a rout.
Benzema ought to have put the tie out of sight late on but headed over from close range with the goal gaping, while Mason Mount was in disbelief when Antonio Rudiger managed to block his goal-bound effort in the dying seconds.
As things stand, Chelsea will still believe they can turn the tie around, though they have now gone six hours in all competitions without scoring.