April 13 – A tap-in by Karim Benzema and a powerful strike by substitute Marco Asensio earned European champions Real Madrid a 2-0 win over 10-man Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg on Wednesday.
Chelsea played the final half-hour with 10 men after Ben Chilwell was sent off for stopping a Madrid breakaway.
It was a second consecutive defeat for new Chelsea interim manager Frank Lampard after he replaced the sacked Graham Potter.
Benzema scored his sixth goal in five matches against Chelsea and has now netted 20 goals in 27 matches against English opposition.
The win at the Santiago Bernabeu puts the 14-time European champions in the driver’s seat ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge on April 18. The teams have met in the competition for three straight years, with Madrid prevailing at this same stage last season and Chelsea the season before in the semis.
“We are satisfied because we managed the game well and earned an advantage ahead of the second leg, which was the objective tonight,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, formerly of Chelsea.
Chelsea have now failed to scored for a fourth match in a row – three of them in the Premier League – their longest barren run since 1993.
“It’s a big challenge, of course,” Lampard said of his team’s chances in the second leg. “There is always hope. We have to believe. I need to be the first one to believe that it’s possible.”
The winners will most likely meet Manchester City who continued their quest to win the trophy for the first time by thumping Bayern Munich 3-0 on Tuesday in the most eye-catching clash of the round between two star-studded sides.
Meanwhile AC Milan beat Napoli for the second time in the space of less than two weeks – and this time with far more at stake – as the Rossoneri won 1-0 in Wednesday’s other Champions League quarterfinal.
The match pitted the defending Serie A champions against the champions elect, with Napoli boasting a 16-point in Serie A.
Both teams also hit the crossbar before Napoli midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa was sent off 16 minutes from time, following two yellow cards in quick succession.
The teams will meet again in Naples next Tuesday with the winner to play either Inter Milan or Benfica in the semi-finals, Inter having taken a 2-0 lead in Portugal on Tuesday.
“It’s still 50-50, the result is certainly a bonus bit it doesn’t change much, there’s still all to play for,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “We’re halfway up the mountain but normally the last few bends are the hardest to overcome. A hard match awaits us in Naples … none of us think we’re already through.”
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