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Champions League: Karim Benzema hat-trick gives Real Madrid 3-1 win at Chelsea

Champions League 1
Chelsea's Thiago Silva in action with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. April 6, 2022

LONDON, April 7: A hat-trick by veteran striker Karim Benzema, including two fine headed goals in the space of three first-half minutes, earned Real Madrid a 3-1 win at reigning European champions Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
Benzema, 34, claimed his hat-trick when he 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.
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.
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 – who have been crowned European champions 13 times but had never previously beaten Chelsea – are now in pole position to advance into the semi-finals to face either Manchester City or crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.
Champions League: Villarreal edge Bayern Munich 1-0 in last-eight first leg
An electrifying Villarreal beat six times European Cup winners Bayern Munich 1-0 in a frantic Champions League quarter-final first leg tie on Wednesday.
Forward Arnaut Danjuma’s eighth minute strike gave Unai Emery’s side a slender lead for the second leg at the Allianz Arena in Munich next Tuesday.
Villarreal took the game to Bayern and should probably have won by a larger margin given the number of chances created.
The Europa League holders suffocated Julian Nagelsmann’s team when they tried to attack, while proving a constant menace to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on the counter-attack. (Agencies)

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