Real takes big step toward Champions League semifinals with win over Chelsea

Real takes big step toward Champions League semifinals with win over Chelsea
Karim Benzema cheers after the 1-0 against Chelsea

NOS Soccer

Real Madrid won the first game with Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals at home 2-0. It was a nice match between the last two winners of the tournament: Real won last year and Chelsea in 2021.

These are turbulent times at Chelsea, which is having a very mediocre season and is disappointingly 11th in the Premier League. That has already cost two trainers their heads.

Frank Lampard made his return to Chelsea last week as interim coach following the sacking of Graham Potter, who replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel earlier in the season. Real is second far behind FC Barcelona in the Spanish league and appears to be fully focused on the Champions League.

Surprising start Chelsea

Already within four minutes, Chelsea came out dangerously twice, to the shock of Real. The Spaniards temporized, which did not help the attractiveness of the game. At Real, they must have been extra wary after last season’s encounter exactly one year ago, then also in the quarter-finals.

After Real’s 3-1 win in London, Chelsea then found themselves 3-0 ahead in Madrid. A goal by Rodrygo just before time forced an extension by Real, after which Karim Benzema guided Real to the semifinals.

Toni Kroos (left) gets a shove from João Félix

The 1-0 for Real in the 21st minute came out of nowhere. Dani Carvajal passed a long ball to Vinícius Júnior, whose effort was just saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The ball remained a few yards from goal and tapping it in was a simple task for Benzema, who already scored his sixth goal against Chelsea, and his 90th in the Champions League.

Less than a minute later, the equalizer was almost in, but a close-range nick from Raheem Sterling was cleverly turned by former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who transferred to Real Madrid in 2018.

Kepa saves but Benzema gets the ball on a silver platter

The game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu went up and down after that goal, with Real the slightly stronger team. In the second half, both teams continued on the same footing, until Ben Chilwell pulled Rodrygo, who had broken through, to the ground in the 59th minute. The referee could do nothing but give the Chelsea Englishman a red card.

Chelsea limited itself to defending and Real wanted to take little risk with the lead. With the contribution of Marco Asensio at Real, things came alive a bit more. One of his first ball contacts in the 74th minute was a low distance shot that was unstoppable for Kepa through the legs of Wesley Fofana: 2-0.

Marco Asensio cheers after the 2-0

In injury time, Benzema had another header chance from close range after Kepa mishandled a ball. Former Vitessa player Mason Mount, who stepped in, could also have scored: his shot was blocked by Real defender Antonio Rüdiger, who, like Courtois, played at Chelsea.

It remained 2-0 in Madrid, next Tuesday is the return at Stamford Brigde in London.

Kayleigh Williams