After falling to league champion Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Chelsea must do everything in their power to get to the Champions League semi-finals.
Carlo Ancelotti, the manager of Real Madrid, had the ideal start against his previous team thanks to Karim Benzema’s tap-in, his 90th goal in the competition.
Before Ben Chilwell was given a straight red card in the 59th minute for fouling Rodrygo as the Brazilian forward threatened to go clean through on goal, Real Madrid struggled to extend their lead.
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Despite Chelsea’s valiant effort, Real scored what might have been the game’s second goal when Marco Asensio, a substitute, finished well after the visitors were caught off guard after a short corner.
After a lackluster performance against Wolves in Frank Lampard’s return game as interim manager, Chelsea carried a more attacking threat and created opportunities for themselves.
When there was no score, Joao Felix forced Thibaut Courtois to make a shrewd save. Then, the former Chelsea goalkeeper made a superb diving save to prevent Raheem Sterling from tying the score.
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A difficult evening for Chelsea
In the quarterfinal return leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, Chelsea must score at least twice, but they have gone four games without scoring.
Mason Mount, a replacement, was denied a late goal by former Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who made an outstanding save to keep the Blues’ spirits high going into the second leg.
In this tumultuous season, the Champions League is their last chance to win a trophy, and Felix nearly gave the Blues a perfect start in the second minute before being denied by Courtois.
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While Real occasionally struggled to find its rhythm in the middle of the field, N’Golo Kante’s return strengthened Chelsea’s attack, and Felix kept Courtois on his toes until Chilwell was dismissed in the 59th minute, when he was replaced.
Owner of Chelsea Todd Boehly stated in a pre-game interview with Sky Sports that “we’re excited about the future” and predicted his team will defeat Real Madrid by a score of 3-0.
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After a fifth game without a victory and the club slipping towards the bottom half of the Premier League standings, it is difficult to understand the source of the euphoria.
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Chelsea has gone through 10 permanent managers since Ancelotti was fired by the Blues in May 2011 after finishing second in the table, firing seven of them, including Lampard in January 2021.
Prior to accepting Chelsea’s invitation to assume leadership until the end of the season, Lampard was scheduled to work at this game as a television analyst.
The club legend, though, has now lost 13 games in a row in all competitions while competing for Chelsea and Everton this season.
Rudiger proves his value
Ancelotti expressed his “sadness” about Chelsea’s dismal performance on the eve of this match, but his Real Madrid team only made matters worse for his former club.
Real did not perform at its flowing best, but they did enough to gain a solid lead as they attempt to win the competition for a record-breaking 15th time.
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As Real made 18 attempts, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were a handful, and Courtois was a reliable last line of defense.
At the very end, Rudiger’s block to stop Mount proved important. The German proved what a smart addition he is after joining Real on a free transfer last June after helping Chelsea win the Champions League in 2021.