Chelsea’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread after the holders were soundly beaten by Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
Karim Benzema’s hat-trick fired Real Madrid to a stunning 3-1 win against Chelsea that put the Champions League holders on the brink of elimination after a dramatic game on Wednesday.
The hosts started brightly and controlled possession, but they were hit on the break by two devastating attacks. Benzema set the tone when he powered home a pair of technically brilliant headers in three first-half minutes to put the Spaniard’s firmly in control.
Kai Havertz reduced the deficit before the interval, but Benzema punished a woeful mistake from Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy in the second half to complete his treble.
It was the sublime Benzema’s second successive Champions League hat-trick after he single-handedly inspired their epic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 second leg.
The result means Chelsea will need to beat real by three goals at the Bernabeu to secure victory in the tie, unless they can force penalties with a two-goal victory.