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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Real Madrid defeat Chelsea in Champions League quarterfinal first leg


) Goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio gave Real Madrid a 2-0 first-leg lead in their Champions League quarterfinal against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Real Madrid dominated nearly the entire match against a rival that appeared worryingly disorganized at times, but they could be slightly disappointed not to have put the tie out of reach given their dominance.

While Real Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti, repeated the side that won 4-0 away to FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey a week ago, Frank Lampard opted to play with three central defenders, wingbacks, and a midfield trio of N’Golo Kante, Enzo Fernandez, and former Madrid player, Mateo Kovacic.

The game started with both sides looking to attack, and Chelsea’s Wesley Fofana and Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga were both shown slightly harsh yellow cards before Real Madrid gained control. Vinicius Jr forced a save from Kepa in the 12th minute, and the Chelsea keeper would be in for a busy 45 minutes.

Kepa did well to deny Vinicius in the 21st minute after the striker latched onto a pass from Dani Carvajal, but he could do nothing to stop Benzema tapping home from close range. At the other end, Thibaut Courtois produced a great save to deny Raheem Sterling in Chelsea’s best chance all night, before Madrid took control of the half: Thiago Silva cleared Vinicius’ chip, and Kepa twice denied Rodrygo and also reacted well to deny Benzema on a couple of occasions.

The halftime whistle would have been welcome for Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard, but the second half saw little change in the script as Madrid continued to dominate. Luka Modric curled just wide, and Koulibaly did magnificently to impose himself on Rodrygo but then had to leave the pitch with an apparent hamstring problem.

Chelsea were down to 10 men with half an hour still to play after Ben Chilwell was sent off for hauling down Rodrygo when the striker was through on goal. The left back walked off without complaints. Substitute Marco Asensio made it 2-0 with a left-foot shot after a corner, as Chelsea failed to close down, first Kroos and then Vinicius.

It looked as if Madrid would go on to add a third, but they seemed to relax in the closing minutes, with the only clear chance coming from a Benzema header over the bar when most would have expected him to score.

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