Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea: Blues down but not out after Benzema and Asensio make the difference
Chelsea were beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League Quarter Final clash on Wednesday night.
In Frank Lampard’s second game as interim head coach the Blues made the challenging trip to the Santiago Bernabeu and were outclassed by Carlo Ancelotti’s team.
The travelling side managed to get off to a good start against the current holders of the trophy, but it did not take long for Karim Benzema to open the scoring. Vinicius Junior saw his initial shot saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga, but the ball rolled into the path of the French forward who could not miss.
While the opportunities continued to fall for the hosts before the half-time break, they were unable to make them count and went into the interval with just a one-goal lead.
In the second half, the Blues made their task to come away with a positive result a lot harder. Ben Chilwell pulled back Rodrygo who was through on goal and received his marching orders in the 59th minute.
Things got worse for the visitors as the half continued, Marco Asensio, who had only come on three minutes before, doubled the lead and put the hosts in a commanding position.
Real Madrid were unable to inflict any more pain on Chelsea before the full-time whistle but will travel to Stamford Bridge next week with a good lead in hand.
Lampard opted to make two changes to the side that suffered a 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Saturday afternoon. Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva were all recalled to the starting XI as Marc Cucurella, Conor Gallagher and Kai Havertz were dropped to the bench.
The game started in a positive fashion for the visitors, the Blues looked to the counter-attack to have success in the opening moments. Just a couple of minutes into proceedings Joao Felix got in behind but was denied after a good stop from Thibaut Courtois.
Two yellow cards were brandished early into the affair, with one going to each side, Wesley Fofana picked one up and this was followed by one for Eduardo Camavinga.
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The hosts then managed to get more of a hold on the game and in the 21st minute, they took advantage of their control. Vinicius’ effort was saved by Kepa, but fortunately for Benzema the ball was pushed straight into his path and he had a simple finish.
Chelsea looked to respond straight away, a delivery from James picked out Raheem Sterling, the Englishman saw his effort on goal superbly saved by Courtois though.
Once again Madrid threatened going forward, Vinicius found space in behind Fofana and managed to lift the ball past Kepa, but the west London side’s captain, Silva, was back to deal with the danger.
While the Blues looked to cause problems for Los Blancos, they were struggling to hold possession and were getting opened up by the home team. The chances kept falling for the hosts and for the Blues, it was a case of simply holding out until the half-time whistle.
Madrid fired eight shots on target at the Chelsea goal, but the Spaniard in the net was up to the task and managed to prevent them from doubling their lead in the opening 45 minutes.
In the second half Lampard’s side need to ensure they stayed in the contest, they started it well, Felix curled an effort from inside the box but it was comfortably dealt with by Courtois.
After 52 minutes, the visitors were forced into their first substitution, Senegalese centre-back Koulibaly had to come off after picking up an injury and he was replaced by Marc Cucurella.
Things got worse as the half continued for the Blues, a ball over the top sent Rodrygo clean through, he was pulled back and brought down by Chilwell though and the left-back received a straight red card.
While not everything was clicking going forward for the hosts, in the 74th minute they doubled their lead. A corner routine found Marco Asensio who struck a low effort from range to make it 2-0.
Following the goal, Lampard decided to make two changes, bringing on both Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher as the Blues switched to a back four.
Chelsea managed to keep themselves in the tie but nearly put themselves in a very good position in the closing minutes. Mount had a sight of goal but was superbly denied by former Blues defender Antonio Rudiger with an excellent block.
Next week the west London side face an uphill battle when they host Madrid on Tuesday, but stranger things have happened.
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