Real Madrid won
This is it at Stanford Bridge: Real Madrid won 3-1 and Chelsea need a miracle in the second leg to reach the semifinals.
Real Madrid won 3-1 against Chelsea after an outstanding performance from Karim Benzema who scored another hat trick while in Spain, Villarreal won 1-0 at home against Bayern Munich in one of the most surprising results of the year.
It was an exciting clash at Stanford Bridge between Chelsea and Real Madrid. The home team started off lively and they tried to control the game but it was Karim Benzema's night, as it has been so many times this season. Despite not having many chances (Benzema scores his three goals on four total shots), the French striker was absolutely clinical and scored the opening goal of the match after twenty minutes. Benzema's combination with his teammate Vinicius Jr. was just perfect and his header was impossible to stop for Mendy.
Before Chelsea even had the time to realize what hit them, Luka Modric found Benzema once again between the lines and the French striker scored his second goal of the night. Chelsea fans hoped that Kai Havertz's goal at the end of the first half could give them a way back in the second half but the dream lasted only a few seconds. Just after half time, a dreadful Edouard Mendy mistake gifted Benzema his hat trick on a plate and he didn't miss the opportunity to score his 82nd goal in the Champions League. Chelsea chased the game until the final whistle looking to score at least one goal and make their second leg task a little less Herculean but Thibaut Courtois prevented them and next to Benzema was one Real Madrid's most important contributors.
Villarreal have the advantage heading to Germany after beating Bayern Munich 1-0 at Estadio de la Ceramica on Wednesday in the opening leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. Arnaut Danjuma's early goal ultimately made the difference as Unai Emery's men did everything but score a second goal, and even that they almost accomplished as Francis Coquelin's effort found the back of the net but was ruled out thanks to VAR while Gerard Moreno hit the post. Julian Nagelsmann's men looked out of sorts from the off and Manuel Neuer will be grateful that Coquelin's goal was chalked off as it was a major error judgment from the Bayern captain. Ultimately, a one-goal lead is a fragile advantage but an advantage all the same and Villarreal will go to Bavaria confident that they can see the tie off by holding the Bundesliga giants or better.
Emery really has his team believing that they can equal their 2005-06 Champions League semifinal outing and that belief can be hard to break once it sets in so Bayern have their work cut out for them ahead of leg two. This was a strong Villarreal defensive performance, forcing Bayern to take 13 of their 22 shots from outside the box. No small task as Bayern take close to 70% of all their attempts from inside the penalty areas this season. This was no fluke from Emery's men, who won the expected goal battle as well, 1.48 to 1.26.
What more is there to say about Benzema. The French striker scored his second hat trick in a row after dominating the second leg of the round of 16 against PSG. Six goals in two matches kind of speaks for itself. Currently Benzema is one of, if not the, the best striker in the world and today he proved it again. Benzema has scored 82 goals in this competition and this year he has scored already eleven goals in Champions League's matches, his best season ever. All three goals were different as well. On the first one, he's the creator as well as the finisher as he's the one who passed the ball to Vinicius Jr. in space, then he runs and he's in the right position to receive the assist. The second one was just pure technique, contorting his body to find a header that the laws of physics shouldn't allow, while the last one, pouncing on Mendy's error shows that he's cynical but also very smart to be in the right place even just a few seconds after the match restarted.
It was a rare away defeat for Nagelsmann's men in Europe but they can have few complaints as they were second best to pretty much everything and almost looked surprised at times by how much desire Villarreal were showing. The losses raises real questions about whether Bayern belong at the very upper echelons of the Champions League contenders (though they were certainly not the only team on the night to face those questions). Bayern's calling card is their attack, they can be vulnerable to counterattacks but the thing they rely on is creating buckets of chances. Villarreal took that away from them. In recent seasons only Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Dynamo Kyiv (in a meaningless group stage match in the snow) have held them to a lower xG total than Villarreal did here.
The Spaniard has had his critics after his PSG and Arsenal spells, but this Villarreal adventure is a real feelgood story which has seen El Submarino Amarillo claim their first continental silverware last season in the Europa League and now stand on the verge of another Champions League semifinal after their 2006 appearance.
Juan Foyth, Villarreal -- A superb defensive display up against the likes of Alphonso Davies and although the hosts were collectively impeccable, they were particularly impressive defensively. Rating: 8
Alphonso Davies, Bayern -- Only just back from injury, the Canada international was busy at both ends as he tried to make things happen going forward for the Germans and made crucial interventions at the back. Rating: 6
Geronimo Rulli, Villarreal -- In a story of two goalkeepers, the home shot stopper came out on top in an impressive display which underlined how he has developed well over the last few years into a dependable presence between the sticks. Rating: 8
Manuel Neuer, Bayern -- A strangely weird evening for the skipper who was beaten by Danjuma early, had his post to thank when Moreno went close and was also fortunate to see Coquelin's miss-hit cross ruled out to spare his blushes. Rating: 5
Karim Benzema, Real Madrid -- What a game, what a player, what a striker. There are no more words to describe Karim Benzema after this hat trick. He's just the perfect striker and he once again proved to be the best on the biggest stage. It's not a coincidence that Real Madrid this season had issues only when he was not fit. Rating: 10
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid -- If Benzema wasn't playing today, Madrid's keeper would definitely have been the man of the match. A handful of crucial saves helped Real Madrid keep this match from getting interesting down the stretch. Rating: 8
Edouard Mendy, Chelsea — A very poor performance from one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The mistake he made on the third goal scored by Benzema is impossible to forgive but this match doesn't have to change our overall opinion about a player who has been largely excellent. Rating: 3
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea: After winning such a game Real Madrid are of course the clear favorites to reach the semifinals but we shouldn't rule out anything especially after since there is no more away goal rule this year. However, it's crystal clear that Carlo Ancelotti has one foot already in the semifinals.
Bayern Munich vs. Villarreal: Although a fine margin, Villarreal are in the driver's seat and Bayern will need major improvement to overhaul them in the second leg with the Spaniards already showing against Juventus that they can handle tough away clashes against stronger opponents.
This is it at Stanford Bridge: Real Madrid won 3-1 and Chelsea need a miracle in the second leg to reach the semifinals.
Massive result for Villarreal who take the first leg 1-0! Emery's men will feel disappointed that they only have Danjuma's goal to show for it, but what an excellent collective display it was.
The Spaniards on the verge of an impressive first leg win.
Huge chance for Romelu Lukaku who came in and his header goes wide but Chelsea are now pushing and trying to score at least another goal.
The Canadian saves Bayern from going two down!
Moreno denied by the post! Bayern living dangerously as Emery's men search for that second goal.
Amazing save by Courtois on Cesar Azpilicueta and Real Madrid goalkeeper was one of the best players on the pitch today.
Not even one minute after the game resumed at Stanford Bridge and Karim Benzema scored his third goal of the game. A huge mistake by Mendy leaves the opportunity to Benzema to score and he doesn't miss the opportunity. What a game by the French striker!
Villarreal 1-0 Bayern: The Germans are lucky not to be down by more with Danjuma's goal the difference for Emery's men after an underwhelming opening 45 from Nagelsmann's crew.
It's 2-1 for Real Madrid at the end of the first half at Stanford Bridge in London. After Karim Benzema's brace, Kai Havertz scored the goal that can make Chelsea fans still hope for the second half and the second leg.
Villarreal thought they went 2-0 up. Coquelin added to Danjuma's opener only for it to be ruled out. Lucky Bayern as they are really clunky so far. Still 1-0 to the hosts.
Chelsea are still in the game and Kai Havertz scores the first goal for Chelsea today. Few minutes after Karim Benzema almost scored his third goal of the night.
As Benzema goes into overdrive in London, this is one of those performances from the Germans which would not have looked out of place earlier this year when Bayern hit patchy form.
It's 2-0 already and again an header of Karim Benzema. An unbelievable performance by the French striker who found his 81st goal in the competition. Luka Modric assist was also outstanding here. The Modric-Benzema duo is still one of the best around Europe.
Another one. Karim Benzema is just unbelievable: the french striker scores the first goal of the night in London. Benzema passed the ball to Vinicius Jr. who then passed in back to Benzema who doesn't miss the header and scored the opening goal of the match.
Free-kick for Chelsea and James' attempt is saved by former Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois who controlled the trajectory of the ball.
First chance for the guests as well but Real Madrid's striker Vinicius Jr. misses a great opportunity and the ball goes on the bar. Karim Benzema did something incredible here as well...
We are up and running in Spain as Danjuma opens the scoring finishing off a team move for the hosts to go 1-0 up.
A better start for the home team that is pushing more than Real Madrid and found the first real chance of the match with Kai Havertz but his shot goes wide. Intense match in this first minutes.
Both matches are set to start. It should be another great day of Champions League with two big clashes.
Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol (c), Pau Torres, Estupinan; Coquelin, Capoue, Parejo; Moreno, Danjuma, Lo Celso.
Bayern: Neuer (c); Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Musiala; Coman, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski.
Villarreal: Massively off the pace in La Liga with three losses from their last four, Emery's men are relying on Europe for potential qualification after slipping out of contention of late. Perhaps this Bayern clash is what the team needs to get them back to their giant killing best.
Bayern: Having hit four goals in each of their last two outings and crushing Red Bull Salzburg last time out, the Bavarian juggernaut is back on the move and Nagelsmann will want to see more of that free scoring form in Spain. The Germans remain questionable at the back, though, with clean sheets hard to come by.
Chelsea: The Blues enter this match healthy aside from Ben Chilwell's knee ligament rupture, which will keep him out until the summer. Other than that, there aren't really any concerns. But do keep an eye on Christian Pulisic, who scored in their semifinal first leg last season. He's coming off significant minutes with the USMNT, and it would be a tad surprising to see him start here.
Real: Eden Hazard remains out with a fibula injury, while Isco is nearing his return from back trouble. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will ultimately be in England after testing positive for COVID-19. Set to face his former squad, the Italian was not set to travel for the game as late as Tuesday.
Villarreal CF play host to Bayern Munich at Estadio de la Ceramica for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal and you can follow the action through this live blog or watch on Paramount+. We will keep you updated on developments between Chelsea and Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge which will have its own live blog updating exclusively on that one -- here you get both.
Villarreal are enjoying their best UCL run since 2005-06 when they reached an unexpected semifinal as Unai Emery continues to bring continental pedigree to the Castellon outfit. Julian Nagelsmann's Bayern are the favorites and the young boss has experience himself from his RB Leipzig adventures, but El Submarino Amarillo will be hoping to surprise the German powerhouse after eliminating Juventus.
Chelsea welcome Real to Stamford Bridge under the lights in London for a rematch of the semifinals from last season. Thomas Tuchel's men advanced and ended up winning the title, but this Real side looks like a stronger one after having bounced star-studded PSG in the round of 16.
Chelsea XI: Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Azpilicueta; Mount, Havertz, Pulisic.
Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde; Benzema, Vinicius Jr.