UCL: Karim Benzema hattrick sinks struggling Chelsea in 3-1 Real Madrid win
- Real Madrid beat Chelsea 3-1 in the first leg of their UCL quarter-final tie
- Karim Benzema scored a hattrick for the visitors
- Kai Havertz got Chelsea's only goal
European champions Chelsea suffered a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Friday, courtesy of a brilliant Karim Benzema hattrick that saw Los Blancos put one foot in the semi-final of this season's UEFA Champions League.
The first big chance of the game fell to the home side in the fifth minute when N'Golo Kante played in Kai Havertz, but the German blasted his shot well over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Real Madrid's in-form winger Vinicius Jr was played into the Chelsea penalty area but his shot hit the cross bar, denying Real Madrid the lead.
However, Chelsea could not deny Madrid for long as incisive passage of play down the right hand side saw Vinicius cross the ball to Benzema, who, characteristically, put the ball past Edouard Mendy to open the scoring for the visitors.
Chelsea barely got any time to breathe after conceding as the Frenchman struck again in the 24th minute, this time from a brilliant pass from midfield maestro Luka Modric.
The tie well and truly looked beyond Chelsea after the second goal, but Thomas Tuchel's men rallied impressively to pull one goal back through a Havertz header minutes before the stroke of half-time.
While many expected a resurgent Chelsea in the second half, it was the Blues goalkeeper who jeopardized his team's hopes of progressing to the semi-final when he played a misplaced pass to Antonio Rudiger right after the beginning of the second-half. The ever-prowling Benzema, expectedly, pounced on the error to extend Madrid's lead to two in the 46th minute.
With the clock ticking down, Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to try and take the game to Madrid. The subs almost paid off, but Lukaku put a golden opportunity wide in the 69th minute, exacerbating Chelsea's woes.
Mount came close with a shot from distance minutes later, but the Blues could not find a goal to get the match back on track. Despite a considerable period of sustained pressure by the Blues towards the end of the game and a host of chances for the home side, Madrid held on for the 3-1 win.
The Los Blancos will host Chelsea at the Santiago Bernabeu on April 12 for the second leg of the fixture, and will be looking to complete their revenge against the Blues for last season's semi-final defeat.