Dominant Madrid earn solid lead on Chelsea in Champions League
Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio struck for Real Madrid as they dominated 10-man Chelsea and opened up a 2-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg lead on Wednesday.
The record 14-time winners and reigning champions eased to a comfortable win against Frank Lampard’s side, who had Ben Chilwell sent off in the second half for pulling down Rodrygo Goes as he ran through on goal.
Benzema netted from close range after 21 minutes after Kepa Arrizabalaga tipped a Vinicius Junior effort into his path.
Despite controlling the game, Madrid had to wait until the 74th minute for their second, with Asensio drilling home from the edge of the box after a short corner routine.
In a battle between the last two Champions League winners, Madrid demonstrated their strength with an impressive display, while Chelsea showed why they are struggling in 11th in the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti, who coached Lampard at Chelsea between 2009-2011, relied on veteran midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to pull the strings.
Lampard, in his second game at the helm since replacing Graham Potter last week, threw Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante straight into the starting line-up after injury worries.
Kante shone against Madrid in the 2021 semis as Chelsea beat them en route to winning the trophy for the second time, and he was one positive for Lampard, slipping Joao Felix through on goal at the start.
The Portuguese forward, on loan from Los Blancos’ rivals Atletico Madrid, drilled a low effort at Thibaut Courtois.
Benzema, who netted a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge last season and scored the goal which sent Madrid through against the Blues in the second leg, forced Kepa into a smart save at his near post.
Madrid fans had shown their support for Fede Valverde before the game, after he allegedly punched Villarreal’s Alex Baena on Saturday, and he nearly rewarded them with a piledriver which flew narrowly off-target.
The hosts soon found the opener, with Benzema netting his sixth goal against Chelsea and certainly his easiest.
Dani Carvajal lofted a tempting ball over the top and although Kepa got his fingertips to Vinicius’s effort, Benzema was left with a simple tap-in.
Chelsea almost produced an instant equaliser but Courtois made a stunning save to deny Raheem Sterling from close range.
At the other end Vinicius came close to netting a second after breezing past Wesley Fofana, but Silva stayed alert to hack his dinked effort away from danger.
Kepa denied Rodrygo and David Alaba as Madrid toyed with their opponents, penning them back in their box for large stretches.
Chelsea have struggled badly for goals this season and after their early chances, found it difficult to build in attack.
Modric curled a fine effort on to the roof of the net early in the second half, as Ancelotti’s side looked to put the tie out of reach.
Chelsea’s uphill struggle was made harder before the hour mark when Chilwell tugged back Rodrygo as he ran through on goal and was shown a straight red card.
A difficult evening for the Londoners was compounded when Asensio squeezed an effort through Fofana’s legs and into the bottom corner to double the hosts’ advantage.
Benzema might have netted another in stoppage time but headed off target after Kepa pushed a cross into his path.
Antonio Rudiger made a good block to thwart Mason Mount late on to ensure his former side could not take anything positive into the second leg.
Chelsea host Madrid next Tuesday, with the winners facing Manchester City or Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.