Chelsea v Real Madrid: A sublime Karim Benzema hat-trick condemns Chelsea to Champions League first-leg defeat.
It appears as if darkness has somehow engulfed the Chelsea personnel, as evident in their reeling from the heaviest defeat of the season v Brentford first and now, following the Champions League capitulation against Real Madrid.
Wednesday’s quarter-final proved to be the start of Chelsea’s careless tossing away of their European title hopes as Real Madrid stunned Thomas Tuchel’s men, inflicting on them a 1-3 defeat, concluding the first-leg of the Champions League quarter-final.
Karim Benzema single-handedly led his team to success through his second consecutive Champions League hat-trick on a humbling evening for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Yesterday’s result put Chelsea on the brink of Champions League exit. It is a daunting prospect for the Blues as failing to overturn this crucial tie will strip them off their European crown that they’re currently boasting from last year. After which, the only realistic chance for the club at clinching another silverware this season would be the FA Cup.
Wednesday’s quarter-final clash pitted together two of Europe’s most formidable sides. Real Madrid opened the scoring through a Karim Benzema header, that beat Mendy in the 21st minute of the first-half – a goal that was assisted wonderfully by Vinicius. The Frenchman ghosted between Thiago Silva and Christensen to finally head the ball home.
Vinicius was a constant threat on the left and kept looking to assist his partner-in-crime, Benzema. Both of whom added misery to Chelsea’s survival hopes.
Before Chelsea could gather their wits to reply to the header, Benzema struck again within the space of 3 minutes, doubling the lead, owing to the assist given by Luka Modric from the right. This was the confirmation of his aerial threat that Chelsea made the blunder of ignoring during both the times.
Chelsea were desperately seeking to make a statement of intent in the first-half after falling behind early, however, so many chances created ended up going off target.
Chelsea handed Real Madrid an unassailable 2-goal advantage at the interval due to their defensive errors, failing to mark Benzema on two different occasions.
It was Kai Havertz, who eventually stepped up, scoring a fine and brave header of his own to reduce Chelsea’s goal deficit from 0-2 to 1-2, latching onto a beautiful Jorginho cross, five minutes before half-time.
Precipitation and goals continue to rain down in Stamford Bridge 🌧
This time it's Kai Havertz grabbing one back for Chelsea.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) April 6, 2022
But, a dreadful Mendy error within a minute of the restart allowed Banzema to capitalise on the blunder and claim the matchball, re-establishing his side’s 2-goal lead, making the scoreline 1-3.
Christensen was eventually subbed off during half-time following his horrendous performance. Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovačić were instead introduced in a desperate attempt to restore some degree of possession for the remaining half.
From that point onwards, Chelsea looked to somewhat have regained their stride and footing, however, none of their attempted efforts could prove fruitful.
Romelu Lukaku, who was brought on for Christian Pulisic did have the opportunity to score first in the 69th minute which the Belgian headed wide from close range despite being unmarked – a horror miss that was – and second, in the stoppage time, but he smoked his second effort too, well over the crossbar from inside the box.
It was a night laced with missed opportunities, defensive errors, blunders and what not for Chelsea, which eventually saw their hopes of mounting a comeback wrecked by those self-inflicted wounds. Edouard Mendy’s expensive misjudgement and Romelu Lukaku’s missed sitter, were the two factors that practically decided yesterday’s result.
What happens if Mendy doesn’t make that error out of HT? Could be a whole different feeling right now. What happens if Lukaku actually puts one of those on net? Idk. A lot of ‘what if’s’ though. Definitely does feel like some of this team’s magic has gone a bit stale.
— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) April 6, 2022
Chelsea still harbour faint hopes of retaining their European crown, despite suffering a torrid night on the pitch, as they still have a trip to Santiago Bernabeu pending. However, they will have to score twice without a reply in the second-leg of the contest, to guarantee their foothold in the competition.
Match Report: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea – Goals from Alonso and Ronaldo result in shared points at Full Time
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea:
If there has been any criticism of Chelsea so far this season, it’s that they can’t convert to save their lives. The pattern was again observed in yesterday’s game v Manchester United. Despite controlling most of the game, Chelsea were unable to capitalize on a multitude of chances created, failing to make their superiority pay. The Blues got things underway with a number of high balls but United saw most of them clear. Marcos Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo eventually traded goals that proved the end of the scoring. Thomas Tuchel set Chelsea up well but the lack of cutting edge from the likes of Kai Havertz cost the Blues a deserved win.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 28, 2022
Chelsea’s bid to overturn their nine-year winless record at Old Trafford ends in a stalemate yet again as the Blues fail to clinch a win over a struggling Manchester United side. The point allows Chelsea to maintain a stranglehold on the third place in the Premier League standings, six points clear of the nearest pursuer, guaranteeing them a Champions League berth.
Chelsea started the game with real intent as was evident in their performance throughout the game, running rampant in the opening half hour, earning a few goal scoring opportunities – all of which unfortunately went off-target, leading to a goalless first-half.
Kai Havertz had the best of our chances but was twice denied by David De Gea, who did well to maintain a degree of normality for the Red Devils throughout the one-sided affair. Timo Werner, N’Golo Kante and Reece James also had decent efforts that they couldn’t convert.
Chelsea’s woes didn’t continue for much longer as Marcos Alonso’s left-footed strike in the first quarter of the second-half gave them the edge over a depleted Manchester United side.
It took three first-half misses for Chelsea to finally wake up and produce a moment of brilliance through Marcos Alonso. It was a Kai Havertz cross that found the feet of an unmarked Marcos Alonso inside the United penalty area, who eventually fired a low-effort pass past David de Gea, giving Chelsea the lead on the hour mark.
Some volley from Marcos Alonso 🤤🤤pic.twitter.com/eulWwupOaU
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) April 28, 2022
United were thoroughly outplayed in every facet of the game as Chelsea tried to carve out chance after chance throughout the match. Despite being unable to offer any attacking threat earlier, United were quick to string together a response through Cristiano Ronaldo – with the help of a Nemanja Matic ball – as he cancelled out Alonso’s opener with an equaliser just two minutes later, making the scoreline even at 1-1.
GOAL Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea (62 mins)
An instant response! Cristiano Ronaldo continues his brilliant form in front of goal, on the end of Nemanja Matic's smart pass#MUNCHE
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 28, 2022
Since the equaliser, momentum had swung back and forth and although Chelsea pushed hard to regain the lead, displaying a sense of urgency and keeping the ball in United’s third, they still struggled to convert the chances they created.
Reece James delivered a highly creditable performance last night and so nearly got the goal he deserved in the dying moments of the game however his left-footed strike ended up hitting the post.
What a goal that would've been… 😮😮
Reece James goes within inches of grabbing a Chelsea winner after some brilliant build-up play 🤩 pic.twitter.com/CJzm1gMYHJ
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 28, 2022
"What a player Reece James is. He looks like a boxer. His distribution, movement, strength. He seems like a nice kid too. He's a clever lad, could play in any position. #Chelsea are a lucky club to have him. Outstanding."
— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) April 28, 2022
Besides the obvious star performer Reece James, there was another Chelsea player on the pitch buzzing around collecting and distributing the ball, leading up to an accomplished offensive performance. It was none other than N’Golo Kante. Kante was involved in two very good chances for Chelsea that were unfortunately wasted by forward, Kai Havertz. Nevertheless, after last night’s events, Kante looks to be approaching the sort of form that had deserted him for most of the season.
The closing stages of the game were packed with action and drama as Matic got away with treading on James, Antonio Rüdiger was booked for a foul on Fernandes, Chelsea made double substitution bringing on Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic for Kai Havertz and Timo Werner – which didn’t prove influential in swaying the matters in Chelsea’s favour – Reece James ALMOST restored the lead for the Blues, only for it to be denied by the woodwork.
NEXT: Chelsea take on Everton in an away game at Goodison Park, coming Sunday.
Real Madrid vs Chelsea: The story of Chelsea’s grievous yet historic Champions League exit
Real Madrid vs Chelsea:
..And with that, Chelsea’s dream of European glory is left in tatters despite vying neck and neck as Real Madrid deny them the Champions League by small margin.
The Spanish side did JUST enough to eliminate Chelsea from the Champions League, featuring a close 5-4 aggregate win in their quarterfinal tie, majority of the damage done in the Stamford Bridge leg. Karim Benzema was once again hailed as a star, for his header in the extra time was what decided the fate of Real Madrid.
It was a ‘defeat with honour’ as Chelsea were no short of magnificent last night, pulling the strings and making Ancelotti’s men look like apprentices on a field trip as the blues threaded together an incredible and sensational comeback. From a tactical standpoint, they were just perfect.
Having fallen behind mercilessly in the first leg, no one imagined that a turnaround of such sort would realistically be possible for Chelsea, however, the players braved all struggles to go agonisingly close to their Spanish counterparts, against all odds.
Chelsea Football Club, that is one of the best 90 minute performances I’ve ever seen from you. What a game, what a team.
— George Benson (@MrGeorgeBenson) April 12, 2022
The Mason Mount strike in the opening 15 minutes set the pace for the rest of the game, giving the blues a perfect start.
Felt like a statement performance from Mason Mount last night. Aggressive and inventive, it was his game for 80 minutes — and then Modric snatched it back. From the Bernabeu #CFC https://t.co/KRey5Xic4H
— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) April 13, 2022
Then followed Antonio Rüdiger’s tie-leveller after half-time, hauling the blues back from the brink of disaster. It was a strike of a player confident in his abilities and apparently relishing his chance on the big stage.
Chelsea’s standing in that game was a conclusive proof that they were well placed to avenge last week’s events. The dramatic win over Southampton reinvigorated their buried beliefs that Chelsea certainly had the firepower to score goals at will, a belief that was further reaffirmed in last night’s highly competitive display.
For much of the remainder of the second-half, Chelsea continued to press relentlessly. Any Spanish raids were sporadic at best, but Chelsea’s defense remained impenetrable thanks to Reece James’ reflexive genius and tackles.
Chelsea thought they had gone ahead in the tie, owing to the goal from Marcos Alonso but it was ruled out for handball by VAR, a decision that was responded with controversy from Thomas Tuchel and his men. Also the decision, that probably cost Chelsea the tie.
Havertz also came close to making the scoreline 4-0 for Chelsea, only for his header to easily be saved by Courtois. This would come back to haunt Chelsea.
After the events that unfolded in the first leg, the reverse fixture merely looked like a formality, but Chelsea managed to pull a miracle of scoring 3 goals without reply, in a complete glitch in the matrix. This is unusual when you’re up against a side of Real Madrid’s calibre.
Despite one goal being disallowed and another getting cleared, It was again Chelsea, who scored next through a Timo Werner goal in the 75th minute that granted Chelsea the lead on aggregate, leaving the hosts and everyone else stunned by such a quickfire turnaround.
It was after this moment that Real Madrid started to get their act together, realising the tie was slipping away from their grip. Chelsea’s lead remained slender as a Luka Modric effort was shortly capitalised on by substitute Rodrygo as he fired the ball past Mendy to score, putting his team level on aggregate again, consequently forcing extra time.
The tie was eventually concluded as Karim Benzema headed home a descisive goal in the extra time, putting his side ahead in the tie. Chelsea had one last chance at a goal through Pulisic, who missed a couple in the dying moments of regular time as well, and blew his effort off once again, by flashing it wide right.
Pulisic has almost won this tie twice.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 12, 2022
Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Jorginho also came close to forcing a penalty shootout but were all denied. And with that, Chelsea’s reign as champions of Europe came to an unfortunate end.
Chelsea were only ten minutes away from completing their heroic comeback but a couple expensive misjudgements and missed chances cost them the tie and sealed their fate. The defeat feels especially unjustified when you put into perspective Real Madrid’s overall performance, which was completely overshadowed by Chelsea’s. It seems as if they’re constantly favoured by circumstances. But, there’s little that mere mortals can do to sway matters. Chelsea were simply robbed and were made to pay for their first-leg performance.
Time to be proud for Chelsea. Top performance, incredible reaction and again credits to Thomas Tuchel. Almost two months with no ownership and under sanction – never easy. 🔵 #CFC
… and what a player, Toni Rüdiger. More than a centre back. Pure leadership. pic.twitter.com/QSBLI4Qd0i
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 12, 2022
MATCH REPORT: Southampton v Chelsea – A positive turnaround after two back-to-back defeats as Chelsea record an astonishing 0-6 win over The Saints
Southampton v Chelsea – Chelsea return to winning ways in a stunning fashion, giving fans a lot to cheer for, as they put 6 goals past Southampton.
The team’s form today was a clear demonstration of how impactful leadership and constructive conversation can transform sporting outcomes.
The win today can somewhat be credited to Thomas Tuchel as well, for his attention to detail, clear advice, actionable insight and most of all, the fact that he never deflects responsibility, rather faces the mistakes head-on. This is a growth mindset and probably the reason behind his remarkable influence on every team he has so far had the privilege of managing.
Chelsea’s undeniably fierce form today has certainly reinvigorated the belief that they are perfectly able to salvage their Champions League tie – after facing a damaging defeat in the first-leg – in Spain next week, provided they replicate the same form.
Chelsea put on a blistering display of attacking football in the opening half to take a 0-4 lead, which was buffed up to 0-6 just few minutes into the second half. The blues then held the 0-6 lead for the remainder of the game. They ran rampant in the opening half hour at Saint Mary’s.
Some stats to highlight how special today's win was:
⚽ Joint 4th biggest away win in PL history
⚽ First time Chelsea have scored 3 goals in opening 21 mins of PL match
⚽ Earliest any PL side has taken a 4 goal lead since October 2011 (which was also Chelsea)
Memorable 💙 pic.twitter.com/hGw2LWlKMq
— Harry (@HarryCFC170) April 9, 2022
The game opened with Chelsea hitting the woodwork twice before finally converting the chance that came at the 8th minute through Marcos Alonso.
Mason Mount collected the ball from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, chesting it down and immediately flicking it over to Marcos Alonso with a brilliant first-touch and before the Saints could muster up a desfensive response, Alonso fired the shot inside the net, giving Chelsea an early lead.
From that point onwards, the floodgates opened for Chelsea as both Mason Mount and Timo Werner managed to register themselves on the scoresheet twice, whereas, the individual strike from Kai Havertz helped conclude an action-packed game at Saint Mary’s in a stunning fashion.
Mason Mount doubled the lead for the blues just ten minutes later, after receiving the ball from 25-yards and firing it home, leaving Forster helpless in front of the net.
It was a goals galore – a game that should’ve ended in 0-9, if it weren’t for Timo Werner’s misplaced shots. But, Timo having more shots hitting the post than the net is the most Timo thing ever.
However, after having a couple of his shots saved by Fraser Forster, he finally managed to get the ball past him and into the back of the net, following a 40-yard run.
Southampton 0-3 Chelsea (22 mins)
Chelsea are really going through the gears with Timo Werner latching onto a loose header, rounding Fraser Forster and finishing coolly#SOUCHE
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 9, 2022
Werner also managed to set up Havertz for a casual tap-in. The Germany International hit the post from close range. The rebound fell to Havertz, who finished the shot with fortunate ease, just before the half-time whistle.
Kai Havertz vs Southampton pic.twitter.com/vsRezVyYIZ
— َ (@CheIseaComps) April 9, 2022
Forster saved twice more from Havertz and Loftus-Cheek after which, The Saints were finally given pressure-free few minutes.
Second-half kicked off with Werner scoring his second within the space of 5 minutes, through a gifted tap-in as a result of a Kanté chipped effort.
Havertz was given a rest for the second-half, replaced by Christian Pulisic. Add another 5 minutes to Werner’s goal and Mason Mount scored his second too, after having Alonso and Pulisic denied by Forster.
Up till the final whistle, the blues managed to maintain their prized 6 goal-lead. Edouard Mendy finished with a clean sheet.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 9, 2022
Throughout the game, Thomas Tuchel’s men relentlessly kept pursuing the objective that meant success to their team, and success they brought. The Blues ready themselves for the return leg to Santiago Bernabeu, where they will look to overturn the tie, coming Monday.