Real Madrid wins Champions League quarter-final clash vs Chelsea

Real Madrid’s German defender Antonio Rudiger vies with Chelsea´s English midfielder Mason Mount (back) during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Chelsea FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 12, 2023. AFP 

Real Madrid dominated 10-man Chelsea to open up a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, with Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio on the scoresheet. 

The reigning champions and record 14-time winners put in an impressive performance, with Chelsea struggling to cope. Ben Chilwell’s red card in the second half, for pulling down Rodrygo Goes as he ran through on goal, made it even tougher for Frank Lampard’s side. 

Benzema opened the scoring after 21 minutes, tapping in from close range after Kepa Arrizabalaga had tipped a Vinicius Junior effort into his path. Despite Madrid controlling the game, they 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.

Carlo Ancelotti relied on experienced midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to dictate play, while Lampard threw Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante straight into the starting line-up after injury concerns. Kante shone against Madrid in the 2021 semis, and he was one of the few positives for Lampard in this game, slipping Joao Felix through on goal early on.

Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge last season and scored the goal that sent Madrid through against Chelsea in the second leg, was a constant threat throughout. Madrid fans showed their support for Fede Valverde, who allegedly punched Villarreal’s Alex Baena on Saturday, and the midfielder nearly rewarded them with a piledriver that flew just wide.

Chelsea struggled to create chances after their early opportunities and found it difficult to build attacks. Modric came close to scoring early in the second half, but his curling effort hit the roof of the net. Chilwell’s dismissal made it an uphill struggle for the Blues, and Asensio’s goal made it even harder.

Madrid could have added to their tally late on, with Benzema heading off target in stoppage time. Antonio Rudiger made a good block to prevent Mason Mount from getting a consolation goal for Chelsea. 

The two sides meet again next Tuesday, with the winners facing Manchester City or Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

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