Karim Benzema was the star of the night as he scored three goals in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over UEFA Champions League defending champions Chelsea on Wednesday night at a very wet Stamford Bridge in London.
Two headers, three minutes apart in the first half and a gift from Edouard Mendy at the start of the second half, gave the French man another three goals, after the three he scored against PSG in the last match.
Real Madrid, who had Carlo Ancelotti back on the bench after a COVID attack, were put on the back foot from the off on the slick Stamford Bridge surface as Thomas Tuchel and his Chelsea tried to forget the 4-1 bashing they received from Brentford last weekend.
But it was Real Madrid who had the first clear sight of goal through Vinicius in the 10th minute but after side-stepping Thiago Silva, he crashed his effort against the crossbar. That was a clear warning as Tuchel’s replacement on the right side of Chelsea’s back three, Andreas Christensen, was given a torrid time by the fleet-footed Brazilian.
Vinicius was involved in the first goal as he received a pass from Benzema, gave it back, and exploded into the space behind Christensen. He then had the composure to cross for Benzema to power a header beyond Mendy. The second goal came three minutes later as Real beat the Chelsea press and Luka Modric crossed for Benzema to guide another header past Mendy.
Chelsea made a fight of it when Kai Havertz headed past Thibaut Courtois in the 40th minute. Courtois, the former Chelsea goalkeeper, was booed throughout the encounter.
Tuchel made two changes at the start of the second half. Mateo Kovacic came on for Christensen and Hakim Ziyech replaced N’Golo Kante but it was Madrid that got the better start. Benzema was the most alert player on the park as he pounced on a weak pass by the goalkeeper and slotted to make it two hat-tricks in back-to-back Champions League matches.
Cesar Azpilicueta forced Courtois into an excellent save in the 50th minute. The Chelsea captain’s right-footer was sailing into the net before it was expertly palmed away by the Real Madrid goalkeeper.
Romelu Lukaku and Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on for the ineffective Christian Pulisic and Jorginho respectively in the 64th minute as Chelsea chased the game.
With four minutes of coming on, Lukaku had two heading chances but he misjudged both. The second was the clearer chance and with Courtois stranded, he headed wide. Mason Mount then tried his luck from 35 yards but the effort missed.
Reece James also had a shot from outside the box that was parried and the second ball cleared as Madrid weathered five minutes of added time. They are almost through to the semi-final while Chelsea have to be perfect in Madrid next week to stand any chance of progressing.
In Spain, Villarreal produced another shock by beating Bayern Munich 1-0 courtesy of a seventh-minute goal from Arnaut Danjuma. The Spanish side beat Juventus in the last round and will confidently travel to Munich next week hoping to keep up their surprising run.