Real Madrid ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in their Champions League quarter final tie against Chelsea in the Spanish capital.
It was a game that saw the last two winners of the Champions League go head-to-head, though Chelsea came up against the current European champions following a season of struggle on the domestic front.
It was, in fact, the third consecutive season that the duo had been paired against each other in the Champions League, with Real Madrid running out 5-4 aggregate winners at the same stage last season following a superb turnaround at the Bernabeu.
It was Chelsea who carved open the first big chance this evening, Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix racing onto a through-ball only for his effort to be fired straight at former Blues ‘keeper, Thibaut Courtois.
Real Madrid soon began to settle into their rhythm, and took the lead midway through the first half. A lovely clipped ball from Dani Carvajal picked out the run of Vinicius Jr, and while the Brazilian’s effort was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga, the ball dropped kindly into the path of Karim Benzema who made no mistake from close range.
Raheem Sterling forced Courtois into an impressive save as Chelsea looked to strike back quickly, while the returning Thiago Silva cleared off his line at the other end in what was at times an end-to-end affair.
Having already seen Kalidou Koulibaly leave the field through injury early in the second half, Chelsea were then reduced to 10 men as Ben Chilwell was given his marching orders for denying a goalscoring opportunity, the England international pulling back Rodrygo on the edge of the area who had raced in behind the Blues defence.
15 minutes after Chilwell’s red card, Real Madrid doubled their advantage as substitute Marco Asensio stroked home from the edge of the area following some static Chelsea defending at a corner.
Real Madrid were good value for the win, even despite being far from their flying best, though the scoreline will give Chelsea a glimmer of hope of staging a comeback. Although the Blues know they will need to rectify their goalscoring problems – the west London club now without a goal in over four games for the first time since 1993.
4 – Chelsea have failed to score in four consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since December 1993. Blank. pic.twitter.com/EHDdblMRPr
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 12, 2023
Speaking after the game, interim boss Frank Lampard said he was disappointed with the manner of the second goal, but insisted he was ‘proud’ of the performance, especially after Chilwell’s red card.
“Proud of the 10 men, but the disappointing thing is you give away a set-piece, definitely switching off for the second goal,” he told BT Sport.
“I don’t think with 10 men they carved us open, and that was due to the spirit. We had three pretty good chances – Joao early, Raheem and Mason [Mount] near the end. So there’s some good things but the result is a reality.
“I’ve just said to the players, special things can happen at Stamford Bridge. They are a very good team, but we have to believe.”
The former midfielder admitted his side are low on ‘belief’, and wants them to be more aggressive.
“There was a lot there for us I thought, they are such a good team,” he said of Real Madrid. “Defensively they give you so many threats.
“In terms of us when we had the ball, it’s been a difficult period for the players, there’s a little bit of a lack of belief. The players have got to understand how good they are and what they can do. Maybe we are a bit short on that.
“It’s not easy to come here when you are like that, because I think there were some opportunities in possession to use the size of the pitch more, be a bit more aggressive. So there was some good in there. Next week is going to be a big fight.”
Asked if his side need to ‘go up a level’ in next week’s second leg, Lampard said: “Yes we do, for sure. We have to understand that there are some details in the game and some mindset stuff that we have to be more positive in what we are doing.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but we keep going.”