Holders Real Madrid are just ninty minutes away from reaching the semi-finals of the 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League, following a 2-0 victory over English Premier League outfit Chelsea in their quarter-final first-leg clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.
The visitors missed a fine chance to go in front very early on in the second minute, but Joao Felix blazed his effort over.
The hosts did enjoy some decent spells on the ball and found the breakthrough in the 21st minute through Frenchman and club captain Karim Benzema. Vinicius Jr did well to direct his shot on goal which was kept out by Kepa Arrizabalaga, only for the lurking Karim Benzema to get the easiest of tap-ins to find the back of the net.
Real shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois made two brilliant saves to keep the visitors at bay, as Los Blancos went into the interval with the slender lead.
The second half saw things deteriorate quickly for Chelsea. First, Kalidou Koulibaly was stretchered off due to an injury he copped as he made a tackle on Rodrygo but the worst arrived in the 59th minute when Ben Chilwell committed a professional foul on Rodrygo – who was put through on goal by Luka Modric’s ball.
Being the last man, Chilwell was given his marching orders as the Blues task on the night became even more harder.
Any hopes Chelsea had to get themselves back into the tie was extinguished, as substitute Marco Asensio struck home off an assist from the brilliant Vinicius Jr as the holders edge closer to the semi-finals.
As for Chelsea, they continue their miserable run of having not scored a single goal in their last four matches across all competitions and are on the brink of exiting Europe’s elite club tournament with a whimper.
Both sides play again next week in the return leg at Stamford Bridge in West London.
🔴 Live Blog:
FULL-TIME AT THE ESTADIO SANTIAGO BERNABEU: Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea
GOOOAAALLL!!! Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea (M. Asensio)
74′ MIN: Vinicius Junior passes to Marco Asensio who collects the ball and unleashes a terrific shot from the edge of the box. His effort goes into the bottom left corner. Fabulous goal!
59′ MIN: Ben Chilwell commits a needless foul on Rodrygo and is sent off as a result.
RED CARD!!! For Chelsea
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY AT THE ESTADIO SANTIAGO BERNABEU: Real Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
HALF-TIME AT THE ESTADIO SANTIAGO BERNABEU: Real Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
GOOOAAALLL!!! Real Madrid 1-0 Chelsea (K. Benzema)
21′ MIN: Vinicius Jr’s effort is thwarted by Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, but Karim Benzema is on hand to tap home the rebound.
KICK-OFF AT THE ESTADIO SANTIAGO BERNABEU: Real Madrid 0-0 Chelsea
Interim boss Frank Lampard has named veteran duo Thiago Silva and N’golo Kante in the Starting XI, following time out on the sidelines through injury. Under-fire forward Kai Havertz drops to the bench while Raheem Sterling and Joao Felix lead the frontline.
The experienced skipper Karim Benzema leads the attack for Los Blancos. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Edouardo Camavinga will be in the heart of midfield while the enterprising Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo will assist Benzema in attack.
The 2022/2023 quarter-final fixtures of the competition began on Tuesday, with two exciting games. First, Italian Serie A side Inter Milan edged Portuguese Primeira Liga heavyweights Benfica 2-0 away at the Stadio da Luz, while in the biggest matchup of the night, reigning Premier League champions Manchester City battered their German Bundesliga counterparts Bayern Munich 3-0 at the Etihad.
Tonight’s clash will see two teams with contrasting results of late, take on each other in an all-important tie for both sides. Defending champions Real Madrid are looking to retain the title they won last year in Paris and they know that a positive outcome will see them go one step closer to winning what could actually be their biggest trophy of the season, after finding themselves 13 points behind table-toppers FC Barcelona in La Liga.
As for Chelsea, a turbulent campaign has seen the emergence of former player and manager Frank Lampard return for a second stint on the dugout. The West London giants have now had four managers in a season that sees the Blues likely to finish outside of the UCL qualification slots in the Premier League.
However, the surest route into this competition next season is to win the trophy outright but with underwhelming performances and coming up against the all-time record winners Real Madrid, the task only got harder.
Nonetheless, the Blues still pose a threat to the aspirations of Los Blancos winning a record-extending 15th UCL crown and a favourable result in Madrid might set them up to reach the semi-finals.