Chelsea suffer a huge setback in their Champions League defence after falling victim to a 3-1 defeat to Karim Benzema and Real Madrid.
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).
Looking to bounce back from Saturday’s disaster against Brentford, Chelsea put their Champions League defence on the line against the most successful team in the competition’s history – Real Madrid.
The tie marked a repeat of last year’s semi-final, where the Blues triumphed via a 1-1 draw in Spain and a 2-0 victory on home soil. Now being coached by former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, the La Liga giants came to Stamford Bridge a different side to last year and looked to prove it under the lights in the nation’s capital.
The visitors were shaped in a 4-3-3 formation, led by top scorer Karim Benzema. Former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard didn’t different travel due to injury, which killed the chances of a reunion with his previous club.
In blistering fashion, the visitors started the game determined and came close to finding the opener on the 9th minute as Vinícius Júnior struck the bar following a Madrid counterattack.
Although it seemed as if Chelsea would’ve learned their lesson, Ancelotti’s side continued to dominate and eventually found the back of the net on the 21st minute. Vinícius Júnior was involved again, this time picking out Karim Benzema who executed a superb header in motion from around 14 yards out.
Things only deteriorated from here for the hosts, who conceded another just three minutes later in replica fashion. Karim Benzema was on target with his head again, this time a more delicate effort that shuffled Madrid straight into the driving seat.
There were later chances at either end for Dani Carvajal and Thiago Silva, but is was still the La Liga league leaders who remained in control.
On the 40th minute, Chelsea were given a lifeline as Jorginho picked out Kai Havertz, who also converted with his head to half the deficit.
The first half closed out with yet another glorious chance, with Karim Benzema fluffing his lines from close range to miss out on a first half hat-trick.
Despite the 15-minute break, team talk and change of formation, Chelsea’s nightmare continued as Édouard Mendy gifted Benzema his inevitable hat-trick less than a minute into the second half. The Frenchman was able to latch on to a loose pass and slot the ball into an open net, which reignited Madrid’s two goal lead.
From here Chelsea improved and came close to coming back into the game on several occasions. César Azpilicueta brought Thibaut Courtois to his best just four minutes after Benzema’s third, with the Belgian pulling off a world-class save to deny the Blues skipper.
The hosts however remained determined and should’ve found a second on the 67th and 68th minute, with Romelu Lukaku missing two crucially important headers. Mason Mount also came close moments later, marginally missing out with a long-distanced effort.
Chelsea went on to have more half-chances, but struggled to create anything significant. Real Madrid went on to pick up their first-ever victory over the Blues, which consequently puts them a foot into the semi-final.
After the Whistle:
In reflection, Thomas Tuchel’s side began the game negatively and went a costly 2-0 down as a result of Benzema’s brilliance. Excluding Mendy’s mistake, once reverting to a four-man defence Chelsea looked a far better team and even had the chances to get back into the game last night.
After coming off the back of a 4-1 defeat to Brentford, a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid on home soil rubs the salt into the developing Chelsea wounds.
With a game against Southampton on the weekend, the Blues will look to instantly bounce back before their game in Madrid next Tuesday. With the away goal rule eradicated, it gives the London club a slim chance heading into the second leg.
That being said, coming back from a two-goal home defeat in the Champions League has only been done on one occasion before.
Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid.
- Benzema (21’, 24’, 46’).
- Havertz (40’).
BBC Sports Player of the Match:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen (45’), Silva, Rüdiger; James, Kanté (45’), Jorginho (64’), Azpilicueta ©; Mount, Pulisic (64’); Havertz.
- Subs: Kovačić (45’), Ziyech (45’), Loftus-Cheek (64’), Lukaku (64’).
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militão (64’), Alaba, Mendy; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos (74’); Valverde (86’), Benzema (86’), Vinícius Júnior.
- Subs: Nacho (64’), Camavinga (74’), Ceballos (86’), Bale (86’).
Chelsea (57%) vs Real Madrid (43%).
Chelsea (20) vs Real Madrid (8).
Shots on Target:
Chelsea (5) vs Real Madrid (5).
Chelsea (5) vs Real Madrid (2).
Chelsea (14) vs Real Madrid (6).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BT Sport).