Defending champions Real Madrid handily beat Chelsea 2-0 in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in a match whose final scoreline could have easily been more lopsided.
Chelsea started strong under new caretaker manager Frank Lampard, with Joao Felix and Raheem Sterling going close early on only to be thwarted by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois playing against his former club.
The two teams met at a similar stage in the tournament last season and despite Chelsea bagging a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu, the Blues crashed out due to an inferior aggregate score (5-4). In fact, even in 2021, Chelsea did not lose away to Madrid as Los Blanocs were held to a 1-1 draw on that occasion. Chelsea then went on to win 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the second leg to progress to the final.
But the task became far steeper for Frank Lampard’s side when Ben Chilwell pulled back Rodrygo when the Brazilian winger was through on goal just before the hour. Substitute Marco Asensio doubled the advantage in the 74th minute to put the 14-time European champions in a commanding position ahead of next week’s return fixture in London.
Dani Carvajal aimed a delicate ball over the top of the Chelsea defence and Vinicius got there ahead of Wesley Fofana to prod goalwards. Benzema was left to tap into an empty net for his 26th and most straightforward goal of the campaign.
Chelsea almost hit back instantly as Sterling benefitted from N’Golo Kante and Reece James combining down the right. He didn’t make entirely clean contact but it still needed supreme work from Courtois to turn behind.
Marc Cucurella had only been on the field in place of the injured Kalidou Koulibaly for five minutes by the time Rodrygo darted in behind him. Chilwell was forced into a desperate challenge that ended his evening.
Only shipping one more goal represented a success of sorts for Lampard’s men, although they were too passive as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Vinicius worked a short corner for Rodrygo’s replacement Asensio to drill past an unsighted Kepa.
On a night of familiar faces and reunions, former Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger made a brilliant last-ditch challenge in stoppage time as fellow substitute Mason Mount eyed a reduced deficit.
For Lampard’s opposite number Ancelotti, the job was far from done despite the decisive first-leg win.
“We have to do it with a complete game like we played tonight, it was a complete game tonight from the start,” Ancelotti said. “The objective was to take the advantage and we have it, but we’ll have to suffer. Chelsea are a good team with good players, we’ll have to fight for another 90 minutes.
“Against 10 men we could have done a bit more, but against 11 we had used a lot of energy, pressing them to win the ball, and after that we lacked a bit of energy and clarity to do better. We have to repeat this game again at Stamford Bridge.”
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