A hat-trick by veteran striker Karim Benzema earned Real Madrid an emphatic 3-1 win at reigning European champion Chelsea in its Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
Benzema, 34, scored two headed goals in the space of three first-half minutes and then pounced on an error by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy just after halftime to put the Spaniards in control of the tie before Tuesday's second leg in Madrid.
AS IT HAPPENED |
Kai Havertz had restored some hope to the Blues when he headed in an angled pass from Jorginho in the 40th minute to make it 2-1.
But Chelsea's chances of a comeback were undone by Mendy's mistake in the 46th minute when, outside his box, he tried to pass to Antonio Rudiger only for Benzema to intercept and steer the ball into an empty net for his 37th goal of the season.
The France striker rocked Chelsea when he converted pinpoint crosses with headers, first from Vinicius Jr from the left in the 21st minute and then from Luka Modric on the right in the 24th, leaving Mendy with no chance on either occasion.
Benzema had looked certain to claim his hat-trick just before halftime but he fired wide with Chelsea's usually rock-solid defence looking ragged.
The Spaniards were seeking revenge after the Londoners eliminated them in last season's semi-finals before the Blues won the trophy in Porto.
There was an early warning sign for the Londoners when Vinicius Jr cracked a shot against the bar in the 10th minute.
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Chelsea sought to fight back in the second half with the best chance falling to substitute Romelu Lukaku in the 69th minute but he headed narrowly wide as a deflected ball dropped to him on the edge of the six-yard box.
In the dying moments, Hakim Ziyech, also on as a sub, fired over from 13 yards.
Real - which has been crowned European champions 13 times but had never previously beaten Chelsea - is now in pole position to advance into the semi-finals to face either Manchester City or crosstown rival Atletico Madrid.
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