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Benzema's brilliance contrasts with Lukaku's suffering as Madrid take control

While Madrid's talisman scored a second consecutive UCL hat-trick, Chelsea's main forward started on the bench and failed to impress after coming on. (Author: Gardener)

MadridLONDON — After all, Stamford Bridge has seen a top striker finally decide a big game. The uncomfortable truth for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel is that it was Karim Benzema, a 34-year-old who is somehow improving with age, who perhaps turned that Champions League quarter-final game irrevocably in Real Madrid's 3-1 win on Wednesday . The France international's stunning hat-trick consisted of two exquisite headers, while the third was a reward for the kind of pressing some think is unfit for an advanced player. Take your pick from Benzema's notable stats: 42 goals in his last 42 games, 13 in his last seven, 10 in his last four, fourth player to ever score back-to-back hat-tricks in the Champions League and his tally of 11 goals in a single season is the highest by a Frenchman in the competition. "He's getting better every day, like wine," said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who arrived in London a few hours before kick-off after testing negative for COVID-19. Benzema is the complete forward Chelsea thought they would buy Romelu Lukaku. His first header combined laser-like precision with enough power to convert Vinicius Junior's cross in the 21st minute. The second was arguably better, hitting Luka Modric's spot-on delivery with his weight on the wrong foot, but somehow rebounded a wonderful effort via Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Kai Havertz responded with a header of his own, converting Jorginho's superb ball in the 40th minute, but less than a minute into the second half Benzema bullied Mendy into an error, landing a pass to Antonio Rudiger. Benzema smashed the Chelsea centre-back in a tackle and rolled the loose ball into an empty net. Lukaku watched all of this from the bench and was left out again as Chelsea have presented enough evidence in recent weeks that they are currently stronger without the man who made them do it. He entered the fight just after the hour mark for the anonymous Christian Pulisic and within five minutes the contrast with Benzema was so stark it was embarrassing. Cesar Azpilicueta produced a left cross to find Lukaku uncovered seven yards away. His header lacked persuasiveness and drifted harmlessly past the goal. "It was very important," said Tuchel about Lukaku's missed shot. But today's individual decisions were far from our level.” The home crowd applauded Lukaku's efforts by venting their anger at a glorious opportunity that was spurned. Lukaku was signed at great expense - €115m from Internazionale - for one clear reason: to bring even more ruthlessness to a side habitually wasting too many chances. In Tuchel's first 50 competitive games, Chelsea kept 31 clean sheets, more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues. It was that efficiency that laid the groundwork for an unlikely Champions League triumph last season, but given the dual mission of retaining the European crown and chasing the Premier League title, this time around it was that resilience The problem remains: Havertz has grown into the role of Chelsea's attacking leader, sometimes with an attacking partner in a 3-5-2 formation or alone in Tuchel's favored 3-4-2-1, but even in their six-game win before the international break, which was admirable given the greater uncertainty surrounding the club's ownership and day-to-day functioning, they often lacked the offensive authority that could reasonably be expected of them. Tuchel has occasionally moved to a back four for a solution and he appeared to regret his line-up here, withdrawing N'Golo Kante and Andreas Christensen at half-time for Mateo Kovacic and Ziyech to attempt a series of changes, this to correct a game that eludes them. Tuchel called the emergence of this tie "my fault" with his 3-5-2 formation and even took the unusual step of turning down an easy opportunity to raise the prospect of a resurgence in the second leg. When simply asked if the tie was still alive, Tuchel said: "No, not at the moment. The first half is a repeat of the second half against Brentford [a 4-1 home loss] in a quarter-final against Real Madrid. So far from our level in absolutely everything the game requires, we can't expect any result from this kind of performance. Of course, this can never be seen as Lukaku's sole fault. He's just the face of a problem Tuchel has grappled with for some time, one uncovered here by Real's superb first-half display and several individual errors, none more damaging than Mendy's error within 45 seconds of the Restart. And in Lukaku's defence, none of the Tuchel substitutions worked particularly well. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Jorginho at the same time as Lukaku's substitution made for an odd decision given the Italian's importance to the team. Reece James was understandably on his second A rusty start since December due to injury and the collective weakness on Chelsea's right flank was a weakness they could not mask. In fact, the full-backs are vital to Tuchel's approach and with James clearly not at his best and Azpilicueta unable to pose the same threat as Ben Chilwell, it's undoubtedly a factor that helps explain why the Blues had problems. As Real's 30-year-old midfield trio of Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro began to tire, Chelsea's persistence created several promising positions - Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, consistently baited on his return to Stamford Bridge, made an excellent save against Azpilicueta - but otherwise it's there lacked quality in front of goal, Tuchel will recognize that all too well. Something has to change or their Champions League ambitions will be the next victim.

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Champions League quarter-finals, first leg - live!

Minute-by-minute report: Join Barry Glendenning for the latest updates as Chelsea look to repeat last season's success against the 13-time European Cup winners (Author: Gardener)

Champions LeagueThis website uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Minute-by-minute report: Join Barry Glendenning for the latest updates as Chelsea look to repeat last season's success against the 13-time European Cup winners. A quick recap: Real Madrid went two goals up thanks to a great header from Karim Benzema but were pushed back after 40 minutes by a Karim Benzema header. There is only one goal but Benzema missed a great opportunity to score his hat-trick just before half-time. Peep: Real Madrid ended a delightfully entertaining first half up front and went into the break with an odd hat-trick. Jorginho puts the ball on the edge of the six-yard box after receiving an inside pass from James. Kai Havertz sends a header past Courtois unmarked. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images 44 mins: Kai Havertz controls a retreat from James on the edge of the box and tries to roll the ball into Thibaut's far post. 42 mins: Another counterattack from Real Madrid and Benzema misses an absolute sitter after being teased by a combination of a Vinicius Junior cross and a poor interception from Jorginho. With goal gaping, he sends his little effort past the far post when you would have bet the farm on him to score. 26 min: Chelsea supporters behind Thibaut Courtois' goal scream for a penalty as Kai Havertz goes down under a 'challenge' from Casemiro. French referee Clement Turpin has none of it - the benevolent view would suggest Havertz fell. Chelsea's Kai Havertz falls after a tackle from Real Madrid's Casemiro. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 37 mins: Reece James drills a cross into Real's penalty area and tries to pick N'Golo Kante from the edge of the six-yard box. Benzema goes home a second! Real Madrid doubled their lead with their French striker deflecting a superb header over the goal and into the far post while leaning back to reach the cross. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema sends another header towards goal... Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters And it flies past Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Benzema has doubled the visitors' lead. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian 35 min: N'Golo Kante tries a long-range shot but the ball flies high and harmlessly past the Real goal. 33 min: Dani Carvajal starts deep in his own half and tries to get on target with a side shot from six meters. Mendy makes an unconvincing save and Andreas Christensen chops the ball clear. Karim Benzema has now scored 5 goals in his last 52 minutes in the Champions League for Real Madrid. — Get Spanish Football News (@GSpanishFN) April 6, 2022 What a header! Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid into the top corner with a great shot from 12 yards out after ending a pullback from Vinicius Junior. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema rolls away jubilantly after scoring his first goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters 30 mins: Another header - this time as Militao connects with the inswinger. He deflects the ball straight into Edouard Mendy's hands. 29 mins: A mix-up at the back for Chelsea results in Reece James giving away a very cheap corner. 28 minutes: A real lead thanks to two wonderful header goals from Karim Benzema. Luka Modric provided the assist for the second, courtesy of a nice little dink from the inside right line as Real broke on a counterattack up front. 23 mins: Toni Kroos is back on the ground and holding his shin after emerging second best from a tussle with Jorginho. 20 mins: Mason Mount tries to head a ball from deep over Real's goal but nods the ball straight into Courtois' hands. 18 min: Thibaut Courtois continues to be booed every time the ball comes his way. Antonio Rudiger is cautioned for a foul on Federico Valverde right in the Chelsea half. Not long ago, it was pouring rain at Stamford Bridge, where the players of both teams were standing on the pitch completing the last formalities before the game. They line up on either side of French referee Clement Turpin and his team of match officials in front of the Champions League anthem, which is drowned out by the noise from the stands. Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gets soaked while warming up. Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock 14 mins: The first quarter of an hour flew by, with neither team able to assert dominance. After a Chelsea free-kick, Eder Militao is cautioned for a foul on Kai Havertz just outside the Real penalty area. He really panicked when the German lunged at him and wrestled him to the ground. Reece James takes the free kick and his low curler gets Courtois to make a pretty easy save. 12 min: A goal was scored in the game between Villarreal and Bayern Munich – but for whom, Daniel Harris? 11 min: Chelsea corner. 10 min: Andreas Christensen slips and Vinicius Junior smashes the ball against the bar after receiving a skillful backheel from Karim Benzema. 9 mins: Mason Mount wins the ball in midfield and plays it wide to Reece James on the right touchline. Real Madrid wins it back immediately. 7 min: A rather frenetic start is interrupted by a body check by N'Golo Kante on Toni Kroos in the center circle. Free kick for Real Madrid as the German goes down holding his hip and winces. 4th Min: N'Golo Kante fights for the ball halfway in his own half and plays it forward to Kai Havertz for pursuit. He advances, then slices into Eder Militao before firing high and wide. 3 min: Real enjoys a period of possession and plays the ball back towards Thibaut Courtois. The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper is being jeered by the home fans just as ruthlessly as he was when his name was read out by the announcer before kick-off. 1 minute: Chelsea get the ball rolling and it blows to the right touchline. Mason Mount whips up a superb cross into the Real Madrid box, where Dani Carvajal does just enough to stop Christian Pulisic from sweeping home. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA Clement Turpin shows the way forward in Italy's recent World Cup defeat by North Macedonia. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images Thibaut Courtois: As Carlo Ancelotti has yet to fly to London after posting a negative Covid test, he was unavailable for his media duties yesterday. Old Chelsea boy Thibaut Courtois was on hand to discuss Real Madrid's chances. It's a new season, it's the quarter-finals first leg and we all feel really good and know what's at stake. We will do everything to win the game. If we create the right intensity, we're able to win.” Thibaut Courtois made 126 appearances for Chelsea between 2011 and 2018. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters Thomas Tuchel: "The Champions League is terribly tough all the time," said Chelsea's manager during his pre-game press conference. But at the same time is what we love. We can handle it, but it's what we choose and love. It's nice to have experiences like that.” “We should be aware that teams with that kind of quality, flair and experience can create a special occasion. It's also a special occasion for us, so we're pretty excited. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP A stone in Real's boot: That's how Chelsea were described in today's edition of Spanish sports daily Marca, given the difficulties Real have faced them in previous encounters. Chelsea beat Real in the Champions League semi-finals last season and have never lost to the Spanish visitors in what might have been five meetings since 1971. Ben Chilwell remains long absent for CHelsea and is unlikely to feature again this season, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to play tonight as he has a number of different back and achilles injuries. Christian Pulisic is back in contention for a place in the starting XI after being rested following his late return from the weekend's international game with USA. Eden Hazard is out for Real Madrid after potentially season-ending surgery and will not be reunited with his former Chelsea team-mates. Eden Hazard's disastrous spell at Real Madrid has been punctuated by a string of injuries with no end in sight. He won't play against Chelsea in this quarter-final and probably won't play for Real again this season. Photo: Ricardo Larreina/AP Chelsea host Real Madrid in the first leg of a delicious quarter-final game that's almost impossible to name. The reigning champions booked their place in the last eight with a fairly straight win over Lille, while Real Madrid advanced thanks to a commendable comeback against serial Champions League winners Paris Saint-Germain. After missing out on Real's La Liga win over Celta Vigo at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti is returning to his old rout, coming the day after his team finally tested negative for Covid after several days of trying. Kick-off at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea were absolutely battered by Brentford on Saturday, is at 8pm (BST). In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on the team and build.

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Benzema's brilliance contrasts with Lukaku's suffering as Madrid take control

While Madrid's talisman scored a second consecutive UCL hat-trick, Chelsea's main forward started on the bench and failed to impress after coming on. (Author: Gardener)

MadridLONDON — After all, Stamford Bridge has seen a top striker finally decide a big game. The uncomfortable truth for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel is that it was Karim Benzema, a 34-year-old who is somehow improving with age, who perhaps turned that Champions League quarter-final game irrevocably in Real Madrid's 3-1 win on Wednesday . The France international's stunning hat-trick consisted of two exquisite headers, while the third was a reward for the kind of pressing some think is beyond the power of an advanced player. Take your pick from Benzema's notable stats: 42 goals in his last 42 games, 13 in his last seven, 10 in his last four, the fourth player to ever score back-to-back Champions League hat-tricks and his tally of 11 goals in a single Season is the highest of any French in the competition.- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only) Get instant access"Every day he gets better, like wine," said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was in London a few hours before kick-off arrived after testing negative for COVID-19 Benzema is the complete striker Chelsea thought they were going to buy Romelu Lukaku. His first header combined laser-like precision with enough power to convert Vinicius Junior's cross in the 21st minute. The second was arguably better as he flat-footed Luka Modric's spot-on delivery with his weight but somehow managed a wonderful shot back over Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Kai Havertz responded with a header of his own and converted Jorginho's superb ball in the 40th minute .minute, but less than a minute into the second half, Benzema bullied Mendy into an error by embezzling a pass to Antonio Rudiger. Benzema defeated the Chelsea centre-back in a tackle and rolled the loose ball into an empty net. Watching all of this from the bench, Lukaku was left out again as Chelsea had presented enough evidence over the past few weeks that they are currently stronger without the man managed to get them to do so. He entered the fight just after the hour mark for the anonymous Christian Pulisic and within five minutes the contrast with Benzema was such that he was embarrassed. Cesar Azpilicueta produced a left cross to find Lukaku uncovered seven yards away. His header lacked persuasiveness and drifted harmlessly past the goal. "That was very important," said Tuchel about Lukaku's missed shot. But today's individual decisions were far from our level.” The home crowd applauded Lukaku's efforts by venting their anger at a glorious opportunity that was spurned. You've gotten used to it by now. He managed four touches in 26 minutes, albeit just one of those setting up Hakim Ziyech for a mission that went just wide. Lukaku was signed at a high cost - €115m from Internazionale - for one clear reason: to bring ruthlessness to a team that habitually spurned too many chances. In Tuchel's first 50 competitive games, Chelsea kept 31 clean sheets, a higher tally than any team in Europe's top five leagues. It was that efficiency that laid the foundation for an unlikely Champions League triumph last season, but this time, given the dual mission of retaining the European crown and aiming for the Premier League title, was to match that resilience with a greater one offensive threat. Lukaku was signed as a one-man solution but the problem remains. Havertz has grown into the role of leading Che Ilsea's attack, sometimes with a strike partner in a 3-5-2 formation or alone in the Tuchel-favorite 3-4-2-1, but also in the six-game winning streak before the international break, admirable as it was given the greater uncertainty surrounding ownership and the day-to-day functioning of the club, they often did not have the offensive authority that could reasonably be expected could be expected from them. Tuchel occasionally moved into the back four for a solution and he appeared to regret withdrawing his line-up here, N'Golo Kante and Andreas Christensen replacing Mateo Kovacic and Ziyech at half-time in a series of changes to try and save a game to correct what eludes them. Christensen was off tempo from the start, unsettled by Vinicius' pace and sharpness of movement. Tuchel called the emergence of this clash with his 3-5-2 formation "my fault" and even took the unusual step of turning down an easy opportunity to raise the prospect of a resurgence in the second leg. Simply asked if the tie was still alive, Tuchel said: "No, not at the moment. I don't know where it has been since the international break. The first half is a repeat of the second half against Brentford [a 4-1 home loss]. a quarterfinal against Real Madrid. So far from our level in absolutely everything the game requires, we can't expect any result from this kind of performance. "If we keep playing like this we will lose at Southampton and then we will be hammered." Bernabeu: "Of course it can never be Lukaku's fault alone. He's just the face of a problem Tuchel has been grappling with for some time, one uncovered here by Real's superb first-half performance and several individual errors, no more damaging than Mendy's error within 45 seconds of the restart. And in Lukaku's defence, none of the Tuchel substitutions worked particularly well. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Jorginho at the same time as Lukaku's introduction, which was an odd decision given the Italian's importance to the team and a vulnerability they couldn't hide. In fact, full-backs are vital to Tuchel's approach and with James clearly not at his best and Azpilicueta unable to deliver the same threat as Ben Chilwell, it's undoubtedly a factor that helps explain why this is the case Case is fought blues. As Real's midfield trio of Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro began to tire in their 30s, Chelsea's persistence created several promising positions - Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, consistently baited on his return to Stamford Bridge, made an excellent save against Azpilicueta - - but otherwise there was a lack of quality in front of the goal, which Tuchel will recognize all too well. Something has to change or their Champions League ambitions will be the next victim.

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Champions League Quarter-Finals 1st Leg - Live Reaction!

Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters (Author: Gardener)

Champions League Quarter-Finals 1stPlease use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters. Carlo Ancelotti: "We had the game well under control and were dangerous on the counterattack," says Real's manager in an interview with BT Sport. "It was a good night but it's only half time and we have to look ahead. "We showed good organization, Benzema was fantastic. We have an advantage, but on Tuesday it will be a different game - they are the winners of the Champions League." Karim Benzema: "These are magical nights, like the other day at the Bernabéu against Paris," the Real striker told Movistar Plus. "Today we came out to win, to show that we are Real Madrid. It worked out well for us because we played well from the first minute to the last.” On his goals: “These are very important goals. I'm happiest to have scored the third goal as I missed one in the first half and I've been thinking about this chance because scoring goals is very important. Then I got another one and I'm very happy." Champions League: Sometimes there's nothing to do but sit back and marvel at the majesty of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, whose clinical hat-trick saved Chelsea's European title at one hanging by a thread, writes Jacob Steinberg of Stamford Bridge. Also read: Karim Benzema's hat-trick for Real Madrid puts Chelsea on the brink of exit Peep! It's all over at Stamford Bridge, where a Karim Benzema hat-trick has left Chelsea with a mountain to climb in next week's second leg at the Bernabeu. Kai Havertz scored for the hosts, who missed several good chances in the second half. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hugs goalscorer Karim Benzema after the final whistle. Meanwhile in Spain: Villarreal won the quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich thanks to a goal from Arnaut Danjuma. 87 min: Real Madrid make double substitutions, Gareth Bale and Dani Ceballos for Federico Valverde and hat-trick hero Karim Benzema. 90+4 min: After a good connection game with Reece James, Ziyech sends a cross from the right into the Real Madrid penalty area. 90+3 mins: Hakim Ziyech grabs a shot after being knocked down by Lukaku in the Real Madrid penalty area. He sends his power high over the bar. 85 minutes: Referee Clement Turpin interrupts the game and a vaguely promising Chelsea attack after Federico Valverde goes down with a cramp. Photo: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock 90+1 mins: Nacho and Havertz go down after a mid-air collision, holding their respective heads. We have at least five minutes of stoppage time. 89 minutes: Rüdiger shoots the ball over the Real Madrid defense and tries to pick out Lukaku. 88 mins: Nacho and Romelu Lukaku have a candid exchange of views, the former aggressively pointing at the latter while seemingly accusing him of off-ball digging. 84 mins: Reece James saves Thibaut Courtouis with a croaking try that rebounds in front of the keeper. Nacho reacts the quickest and hacks away the breaking ball before Ruben Loftus-Cheek can hit. 83 min: Another ball from deep inside the Real Madrid penalty area finds its way to Eduoard Mendy. He can pass this a few meters to Antonio Rüdiger without ridiculous consequences. 81 min: Gareth Bale prepares to come on for Real Madrid. 50 min: Thibaut Courtois makes a brilliant save from a long-range shot from Cesar Azpilicueta and tips the ball over the goal with his fingers. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois blocks a shot from Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Glyn Kirk/IK Images/AFP/Getty Images 79 min: One for Toni Kroos, Eduardo Canvinga is turned around by Kai Havertz, who shoots straight at Courtois from Real's penalty area. 78 min: Nacho finds himself in the room and advances to the right inside. 69 minutes: Romelu Lukaku sends a header past the far post uncovered on the edge of the Real Madrid six-metre box. Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a good chance. 75 mins: Real appear to have weathered a brief storm in Chelsea's second half. 71 minutes: Chelsea besieged the Real Madrid goal and won a corner. The ball rattles off his knee and bounces far. 70 min: Another chance for Chelsea as Mason Mount runs towards a breaking ball and curls it over the post from 25 yards inches. Premier League: Now who will Frank Lampard blame for Burnley beating Everton with the odd goal from five at Turf Moor? 66 mins: Valverde advances down the right flank for Real Madrid but is forced back. Modric picks up the ball but is disowned by Mount. Shortly after, Havertz wins a free kick down the left after being fouled by Ferland Mendy. 63 min: Lots of huffing and puffing from Chelsea, but to little effect. Chelsea double substitution: Romelu Lukaku and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Jorginho and Christian Pulisic. Mendy catches a ball over the top, comes out of his penalty area and sells Rüdiger with a short pass. Benzema steals in, nods the ball and rolls it into a gaping goal. Rüdiger couldn't foul a yellow card and only half-heartedly defended himself. Karim Benzema deflects the ball from Antonio Rüdiger ... And shoots the ball into the empty goal for a hat trick. 60 min: There is a break in play as Eder Militao is treated for injury. He limps off to receive more barrel repairs and restart the game with a Chelsea throw-in. 58 min: Just inside the Real penalty area, Christian Pulisic shifts the ball to his left foot and floats the ball harmlessly towards Courtois at the near post. 55 min: It's worth noting that Karim Benzema, despite being around 77 years old, sprinted out of his own half leading up to that third goal just for the chance of Edouard Mendy screwing up his pass to Antonio Rudiger after advancing out of his penalty area to process a ball from deep. The Chelsea goalkeeper did his duty and Benzema took advantage. Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid into the top corner with a great shot from 12 yards out after ending a pullback from Vinicius Junior. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema rolls away jubilantly after scoring his first goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters Benzema celebrates with his Real Madrid team-mates. A quick recap: Real Madrid went two goals ahead thanks to two great headers from Karim Benzema but were pushed back by a Kai Havertz header in the 40th minute. There is only one goal but Benzema missed a great opportunity to score his hat-trick just before half-time. 49 min: Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, I tried to tell you about Mateo Kovacic, who switched to a back four for Andreas Christensen and Chelsea. 46min: Andreas Christensen was rolled over by Vinicius Junior in the first half and got the halftime hook... 11min: Chelsea corner. Mason Mount, looking like a drowned rat in the pouring rain, fails to get rid of the first man. Champions League: Daniel Harris has the latest from the quarter-final first leg between Villarreal and Bayern Munich. Premier League: There have been four goals so far in the Premier League encounter between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor - find out who scored them with Tim de Lisle... Peep: Real Madrid ended a delightfully entertaining first half on the forefoot and go into the break leading through the odd gate of three. Jorginho puts the ball on the edge of the six-yard box after receiving an inside pass from James. Kai Havertz sends a header past Courtois unmarked. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images 44 mins: Kai Havertz controls a retreat from James on the edge of the box and tries to roll the ball into Thibaut's far post. 42 mins: Another counterattack from Real Madrid and Benzema misses an absolute sitter after being teased by a combination of a Vinicius Junior cross and a poor interception from Jorginho. With goal gaping, he sends his little effort past the far post when you would have bet the farm on him to score. 26 min: Chelsea supporters behind Thibaut Courtois' goal scream for a penalty as Kai Havertz goes down under a 'challenge' from Casemiro. French referee Clement Turpin has none of it - the benevolent view would suggest Havertz fell. Chelsea's Kai Havertz falls after a tackle from Real Madrid's Casemiro. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 37 mins: Reece James drills a cross into Real's penalty area and tries to pick N'Golo Kante from the edge of the six-yard box. Militao clears the corner. Benzema goes home a second! Real Madrid doubled their lead with their French striker deflecting a superb header over the goal and into the far post while leaning back to reach the cross. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema sends another header towards goal... Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters And it flies past Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Benzema has doubled the visitors' lead. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian 35 min: N'Golo Kante tries It's a long-range shot, but the ball drifts high and harmlessly past the Real goal. 33 min: Dani Carvajal starts deep in his own half and tries to get on target with a side shot from six meters. Mendy makes an unconvincing save and Andreas Christensen chops the ball clear. Karim Benzema has now scored 5 goals in his last 52 minutes in the Champions League for Real Madrid. - Get Spanish Soccer News (@GSpanishFN) 6 Apr 2022 30 mins: Another header - this time Militao connects with the inswinger. He deflects the ball straight into Edouard Mendy's hands. 29 mins: A mix-up at the back for Chelsea results in Reece James giving away a very cheap corner. 28 minutes: A real lead thanks to two wonderful header goals from Karim Benzema. Luka Modric provided the assist for the second, courtesy of a nice little dink from the inside right line as Real broke on a counterattack up front. 23 mins: Toni Kroos is back on the ground and holding his shin after emerging second best from a tussle with Jorginho. 20 mins: Mason Mount tries to head a ball from deep over Real's goal but nods the ball straight into Courtois' hands. 18 min: Thibaut Courtois continues to be booed every time the ball comes his way. Antonio Rudiger is cautioned for a foul on Federico Valverde right in the Chelsea half. Not long ago, it was pouring rain at Stamford Bridge, where the players of both teams were standing on the pitch completing the last formalities before the game. They line up on either side of French referee Clement Turpin and his team of match officials in front of the Champions League anthem, which is drowned out by the noise from the stands. Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gets soaked while warming up. Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock 14 mins: The first quarter of an hour flew by, with neither team claiming dominance. After a Chelsea free-kick, Eder Militao is cautioned for a foul on Kai Havertz just outside the Real penalty area. He really panicked when the German lunged at him and wrestled him to the ground. Reece James takes the free kick and his low curler gets Courtois to make a pretty easy save. 12 min: A goal was scored in the game between Villarreal and Bayern Munich – but for whom, Daniel Harris? 10 min: Andreas Christensen slips and Vinicius Junior smashes the ball against the bar after receiving a skillful backheel from Karim Benzema. 9 mins: Mason Mount wins the ball in midfield and plays it wide to Reece James on the right touchline. Real Madrid wins it back immediately. 7 min: A rather frenetic start is interrupted by a body check by N'Golo Kante on Toni Kroos in the center circle. Free kick for Real Madrid as the German goes down holding his hip and winces. 4th Min: N'Golo Kante fights for the ball halfway in his own half and plays it forward to Kai Havertz for pursuit. He advances, then slices into Eder Militao before firing high and wide. 3 min: Real enjoys a period of possession and plays the ball back towards Thibaut Courtois. The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper is being jeered by the home fans just as ruthlessly as he was when his name was read out by the announcer before kick-off. 1 minute: Chelsea get the ball rolling and it blows to the right touchline. Mason Mount whips up a superb cross into the Real Madrid box, where Dani Carvajal does just enough to stop Christian Pulisic from sweeping home. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA Clement Turpin shows the way forward in Italy's recent World Cup defeat by North Macedonia. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images Thibaut Courtois: As Carlo Ancelotti has yet to fly to London after posting a negative Covid test, he was unavailable for his media duties yesterday. Old Chelsea boy Thibaut Courtois was on hand to discuss Real Madrid's chances. It's a new season, it's the quarter-finals first leg and we all feel really good and know what's at stake. We will do everything to win the game. If we create the right intensity, we're able to win.” Thibaut Courtois made 126 appearances for Chelsea between 2011 and 2018. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters Thomas Tuchel: "The Champions League is terribly tough all the time," said Chelsea's manager during his pre-game press conference. We can handle it, but it's what we choose and love. It's nice to have experiences like that.” “We should be aware that teams with that kind of quality, flair and experience can create a special occasion. It's also a special occasion for us, so we're pretty excited. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP A stone in Real's boot: That's how Chelsea were described in today's edition of Spanish sports daily Marca, given the difficulties Real have faced them in previous encounters. Chelsea beat Real in the Champions League semi-finals last season and have never lost to the Spanish visitors in what might have been five meetings since 1971. Ben Chilwell remains long absent for CHelsea and is unlikely to feature again this season, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to play tonight as he has a number of different back and achilles injuries. Christian Pulisic is back in contention for a place in the starting XI after being rested following his late return from the weekend's international game with USA. Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make way for Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho from the side that lost to Brentford. Eden Hazard is out for Real Madrid after potentially season-ending surgery and will not be reunited with his former Chelsea team-mates. Eden Hazard's disastrous spell at Real Madrid has been punctuated by a string of injuries with no end in sight. He won't play against Chelsea in this quarter-final and probably won't play for Real again this season. Photo: Ricardo Larreina/AP Chelsea host Real Madrid in the first leg of a delicious quarter-final game that's almost impossible to name. The reigning champions booked their place in the last eight with a fairly straight win over Lille, while Real Madrid advanced thanks to a commendable comeback against serial Champions League winners Paris Saint-Germain. After missing out on Real's La Liga win over Celta Vigo at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti is returning to his old rout, coming the day after his team finally tested negative for Covid after several days of trying. Kick-off at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea were absolutely battered by Brentford on Saturday, is at 8pm (BST). Real Madrid and Karim Benzema offer the comfort of continuity

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Champions League Quarter-Finals 1st Leg - Live Reaction!

Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters (Author: Gardener)

Champions League Quarter-Finals 1stPlease use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters. Carlo Ancelotti: "We had the game well under control and were dangerous on the counterattack," says Real's manager in an interview with BT Sport. "It was a good night but it's only half time and we have to look ahead. "We showed good organization, Benzema was fantastic. We have an advantage, but on Tuesday it will be a different game - they are the winners of the Champions League." Karim Benzema: "These are magical nights, like the other day at the Bernabéu against Paris," the Real striker told Movistar Plus. "Today we came out to win, to show that we are Real Madrid. It worked out well for us because we played well from the first minute to the last.” On his goals: “These are very important goals. I'm happiest to have scored the third goal as I missed one in the first half and I've been thinking about this chance because scoring goals is very important. Then I got another one and I'm very happy." Champions League: Sometimes there's nothing to do but sit back and marvel at the majesty of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, whose clinical hat-trick saved Chelsea's European title at one hanging by a thread, writes Jacob Steinberg of Stamford Bridge. Also read: Karim Benzema's hat-trick for Real Madrid puts Chelsea on the brink of exit Peep! It's all over at Stamford Bridge, where a Karim Benzema hat-trick has left Chelsea with a mountain to climb in next week's second leg at the Bernabeu. Kai Havertz scored for the hosts, who missed several good chances in the second half. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hugs goalscorer Karim Benzema after the final whistle. Meanwhile in Spain: Villarreal won the quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich thanks to a goal from Arnaut Danjuma. 87 min: Real Madrid make double substitutions, Gareth Bale and Dani Ceballos for Federico Valverde and hat-trick hero Karim Benzema. 90+4 min: After a good connection game with Reece James, Ziyech sends a cross from the right into the Real Madrid penalty area. 90+3 mins: Hakim Ziyech grabs a shot after being knocked down by Lukaku in the Real Madrid penalty area. He sends his power high over the bar. 85 minutes: Referee Clement Turpin interrupts the game and a vaguely promising Chelsea attack after Federico Valverde goes down with a cramp. Photo: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock 90+1 mins: Nacho and Havertz go down after a mid-air collision, holding their respective heads. We have at least five minutes of stoppage time. 89 minutes: Rüdiger shoots the ball over the Real Madrid defense and tries to pick out Lukaku. 88 mins: Nacho and Romelu Lukaku have a candid exchange of views, the former aggressively pointing at the latter while seemingly accusing him of off-ball digging. 84 mins: Reece James saves Thibaut Courtouis with a croaking try that rebounds in front of the keeper. Nacho reacts the quickest and hacks away the breaking ball before Ruben Loftus-Cheek can hit. 83 min: Another ball from deep inside the Real Madrid penalty area finds its way to Eduoard Mendy. He can pass this a few meters to Antonio Rüdiger without ridiculous consequences. 81 min: Gareth Bale prepares to come on for Real Madrid. 50 min: Thibaut Courtois makes a brilliant save from a long-range shot from Cesar Azpilicueta and tips the ball over the goal with his fingers. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois blocks a shot from Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Glyn Kirk/IK Images/AFP/Getty Images 79 min: One for Toni Kroos, Eduardo Canvinga is turned around by Kai Havertz, who shoots straight at Courtois from Real's penalty area. 78 min: Nacho finds himself in the room and advances to the right inside. 69 minutes: Romelu Lukaku sends a header past the far post uncovered on the edge of the Real Madrid six-metre box. Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a good chance. 75 mins: Real appear to have weathered a brief storm in Chelsea's second half. 71 minutes: Chelsea besieged the Real Madrid goal and won a corner. The ball rattles off his knee and bounces far. 70 min: Another chance for Chelsea as Mason Mount runs towards a breaking ball and curls it over the post from 25 yards inches. Premier League: Now who will Frank Lampard blame for Burnley beating Everton with the odd goal from five at Turf Moor? 66 mins: Valverde advances down the right flank for Real Madrid but is forced back. Modric picks up the ball but is disowned by Mount. Shortly after, Havertz wins a free kick down the left after being fouled by Ferland Mendy. 63 min: Lots of huffing and puffing from Chelsea, but to little effect. Chelsea double substitution: Romelu Lukaku and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Jorginho and Christian Pulisic. Mendy catches a ball over the top, comes out of his penalty area and sells Rüdiger with a short pass. Benzema steals in, nods the ball and rolls it into a gaping goal. Rüdiger couldn't foul a yellow card and only half-heartedly defended himself. Karim Benzema deflects the ball from Antonio Rüdiger ... And shoots the ball into the empty goal for a hat trick. 60 min: There is a break in play as Eder Militao is treated for injury. He limps off to receive more barrel repairs and restart the game with a Chelsea throw-in. 58 min: Just inside the Real penalty area, Christian Pulisic shifts the ball to his left foot and floats the ball harmlessly towards Courtois at the near post. 55 min: It's worth noting that Karim Benzema, despite being around 77 years old, sprinted out of his own half leading up to that third goal just for the chance of Edouard Mendy screwing up his pass to Antonio Rudiger after advancing out of his penalty area to process a ball from deep. The Chelsea goalkeeper did his duty and Benzema took advantage. Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid into the top corner with a great shot from 12 yards out after ending a pullback from Vinicius Junior. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema rolls away jubilantly after scoring his first goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters Benzema celebrates with his Real Madrid team-mates. A quick recap: Real Madrid went two goals ahead thanks to two great headers from Karim Benzema but were pushed back by a Kai Havertz header in the 40th minute. There is only one goal but Benzema missed a great opportunity to score his hat-trick just before half-time. 49 min: Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, I tried to tell you about Mateo Kovacic, who switched to a back four for Andreas Christensen and Chelsea. 46min: Andreas Christensen was rolled over by Vinicius Junior in the first half and got the halftime hook... 11min: Chelsea corner. Mason Mount, looking like a drowned rat in the pouring rain, fails to get rid of the first man. Champions League: Daniel Harris has the latest from the quarter-final first leg between Villarreal and Bayern Munich. Premier League: There have been four goals so far in the Premier League encounter between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor - find out who scored them with Tim de Lisle... Peep: Real Madrid ended a delightfully entertaining first half on the forefoot and go into the break leading through the odd gate of three. Jorginho puts the ball on the edge of the six-yard box after receiving an inside pass from James. Kai Havertz sends a header past Courtois unmarked. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images 44 mins: Kai Havertz controls a retreat from James on the edge of the box and tries to roll the ball into Thibaut's far post. 42 mins: Another counterattack from Real Madrid and Benzema misses an absolute sitter after being teased by a combination of a Vinicius Junior cross and a poor interception from Jorginho. With goal gaping, he sends his little effort past the far post when you would have bet the farm on him to score. 26 min: Chelsea supporters behind Thibaut Courtois' goal scream for a penalty as Kai Havertz goes down under a 'challenge' from Casemiro. French referee Clement Turpin has none of it - the benevolent view would suggest Havertz fell. Chelsea's Kai Havertz falls after a tackle from Real Madrid's Casemiro. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 37 mins: Reece James drills a cross into Real's penalty area and tries to pick N'Golo Kante from the edge of the six-yard box. Militao clears the corner. Benzema goes home a second! Real Madrid doubled their lead with their French striker deflecting a superb header over the goal and into the far post while leaning back to reach the cross. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema sends another header towards goal... Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters And it flies past Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Benzema has doubled the visitors' lead. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian 35 min: N'Golo Kante tries It's a long-range shot, but the ball drifts high and harmlessly past the Real goal. 33 min: Dani Carvajal starts deep in his own half and tries to get on target with a side shot from six meters. Mendy makes an unconvincing save and Andreas Christensen chops the ball clear. Karim Benzema has now scored 5 goals in his last 52 minutes in the Champions League for Real Madrid. - Get Spanish Soccer News (@GSpanishFN) 6 Apr 2022 30 mins: Another header - this time Militao connects with the inswinger. He deflects the ball straight into Edouard Mendy's hands. 29 mins: A mix-up at the back for Chelsea results in Reece James giving away a very cheap corner. 28 minutes: A real lead thanks to two wonderful header goals from Karim Benzema. Luka Modric provided the assist for the second, courtesy of a nice little dink from the inside right line as Real broke on a counterattack up front. 23 mins: Toni Kroos is back on the ground and holding his shin after emerging second best from a tussle with Jorginho. 20 mins: Mason Mount tries to head a ball from deep over Real's goal but nods the ball straight into Courtois' hands. 18 min: Thibaut Courtois continues to be booed every time the ball comes his way. Antonio Rudiger is cautioned for a foul on Federico Valverde right in the Chelsea half. Not long ago, it was pouring rain at Stamford Bridge, where the players of both teams were standing on the pitch completing the last formalities before the game. They line up on either side of French referee Clement Turpin and his team of match officials in front of the Champions League anthem, which is drowned out by the noise from the stands. Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gets soaked while warming up. Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock 14 mins: The first quarter of an hour flew by, with neither team claiming dominance. After a Chelsea free-kick, Eder Militao is cautioned for a foul on Kai Havertz just outside the Real penalty area. He really panicked when the German lunged at him and wrestled him to the ground. Reece James takes the free kick and his low curler gets Courtois to make a pretty easy save. 12 min: A goal was scored in the game between Villarreal and Bayern Munich – but for whom, Daniel Harris? 10 min: Andreas Christensen slips and Vinicius Junior smashes the ball against the bar after receiving a skillful backheel from Karim Benzema. 9 mins: Mason Mount wins the ball in midfield and plays it wide to Reece James on the right touchline. Real Madrid wins it back immediately. 7 min: A rather frenetic start is interrupted by a body check by N'Golo Kante on Toni Kroos in the center circle. Free kick for Real Madrid as the German goes down holding his hip and winces. 4th Min: N'Golo Kante fights for the ball halfway in his own half and plays it forward to Kai Havertz for pursuit. He advances, then slices into Eder Militao before firing high and wide. 3 min: Real enjoys a period of possession and plays the ball back towards Thibaut Courtois. The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper is being jeered by the home fans just as ruthlessly as he was when his name was read out by the announcer before kick-off. 1 minute: Chelsea get the ball rolling and it blows to the right touchline. Mason Mount whips up a superb cross into the Real Madrid box, where Dani Carvajal does just enough to stop Christian Pulisic from sweeping home. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA Clement Turpin shows the way forward in Italy's recent World Cup defeat by North Macedonia. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images Thibaut Courtois: As Carlo Ancelotti has yet to fly to London after posting a negative Covid test, he was unavailable for his media duties yesterday. Old Chelsea boy Thibaut Courtois was on hand to discuss Real Madrid's chances. It's a new season, it's the quarter-finals first leg and we all feel really good and know what's at stake. We will do everything to win the game. If we create the right intensity, we're able to win.” Thibaut Courtois made 126 appearances for Chelsea between 2011 and 2018. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters Thomas Tuchel: "The Champions League is terribly tough all the time," said Chelsea's manager during his pre-game press conference. We can handle it, but it's what we choose and love. It's nice to have experiences like that.” “We should be aware that teams with that kind of quality, flair and experience can create a special occasion. It's also a special occasion for us, so we're pretty excited. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP A stone in Real's boot: That's how Chelsea were described in today's edition of Spanish sports daily Marca, given the difficulties Real have faced them in previous encounters. Chelsea beat Real in the Champions League semi-finals last season and have never lost to the Spanish visitors in what might have been five meetings since 1971. Ben Chilwell remains long absent for CHelsea and is unlikely to feature again this season, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to play tonight as he has a number of different back and achilles injuries. Christian Pulisic is back in contention for a place in the starting XI after being rested following his late return from the weekend's international game with USA. Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make way for Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho from the side that lost to Brentford. Eden Hazard is out for Real Madrid after potentially season-ending surgery and will not be reunited with his former Chelsea team-mates. Eden Hazard's disastrous spell at Real Madrid has been punctuated by a string of injuries with no end in sight. He won't play against Chelsea in this quarter-final and probably won't play for Real again this season. Photo: Ricardo Larreina/AP Chelsea host Real Madrid in the first leg of a delicious quarter-final game that's almost impossible to name. The reigning champions booked their place in the last eight with a fairly straight win over Lille, while Real Madrid advanced thanks to a commendable comeback against serial Champions League winners Paris Saint-Germain. After missing out on Real's La Liga win over Celta Vigo at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti is returning to his old rout, coming the day after his team finally tested negative for Covid after several days of trying. Kick-off at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea were absolutely battered by Brentford on Saturday, is at 8pm (BST). Real Madrid and Karim Benzema offer the comfort of continuity

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Champions League Quarter-Finals 1st Leg - Live Reaction!

Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters (Author: Gardener)

Champions League Quarter-Finals 1stThis website uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to leave Chgelsea's title defense in tatters. Karim Benzema: "These are magical nights, like the other day at the Bernabéu against Paris," says the Real striker to Movistar Plus. "Today we came out to win, to show that we are Real Madrid. It worked out well for us because we played well from the first minute to the last.” On his goals: “These are very important goals. I'm happiest to have scored the third goal as I missed one in the first half and I've been thinking about this chance because scoring goals is very important. Then I got another one and I'm very happy." Champions League: Sometimes there's nothing to do but sit back and marvel at the majesty of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, whose clinical hat-trick saved Chelsea's European title at one hanging by a thread, writes Jacob Steinberg of Stamford Bridge. Also read: Karim Benzema's hat-trick for Real Madrid puts Chelsea on the brink of exit Peep! It's all over at Stamford Bridge, where a Karim Benzema hat-trick has left Chelsea with a mountain to climb in next week's second leg at the Bernabeu. Kai Havertz scored for the hosts, who missed several good chances in the second half. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hugs goalscorer Karim Benzema after the final whistle. Meanwhile in Spain: Villarreal won the quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich thanks to a goal from Arnaut Danjuma. 87 min: Real Madrid make double substitutions, Gareth Bale and Dani Ceballos for Federico Valverde and hat-trick hero Karim Benzema. 90+4 min: After a good connection game with Reece James, Ziyech sends a cross from the right into the Real Madrid penalty area. 90+3 mins: Hakim Ziyech grabs a shot after being knocked down by Lukaku in the Real Madrid penalty area. 85 minutes: Referee Clement Turpin interrupts the game and a vaguely promising Chelsea attack after Federico Valverde goes down with a cramp. Photo: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock 90+1 mins: Nacho and Havertz go down after a mid-air collision, holding their respective heads. We have at least five minutes of stoppage time. 89 minutes: Rüdiger shoots the ball over the Real Madrid defense and tries to pick out Lukaku. 88 mins: Nacho and Romelu Lukaku have a candid exchange of views, the former aggressively pointing at the latter while seemingly accusing him of off-ball digging. 84 mins: Reece James saves Thibaut Courtouis with a croaking try that rebounds in front of the keeper. Nacho reacts the quickest and hacks away the breaking ball before Ruben Loftus-Cheek can hit. 83 min: Another ball from deep inside the Real Madrid penalty area finds its way to Eduoard Mendy. He can pass this a few meters to Antonio Rüdiger without ridiculous consequences. 81 min: Gareth Bale prepares to come on for Real Madrid. 50 min: Thibaut Courtois makes a brilliant save from a long-range shot from Cesar Azpilicueta and tips the ball over the goal with his fingers. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois blocks a shot from Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Glyn Kirk/IK Images/AFP/Getty Images 79 min: One for Toni Kroos, Eduardo Canvinga is turned around by Kai Havertz, who shoots straight at Courtois from Real's penalty area. 78 min: Nacho finds himself in the room and advances to the right inside. 69 minutes: Romelu Lukaku sends a header past the far post uncovered on the edge of the Real Madrid six-metre box. Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a good chance. 75 mins: Real appear to have weathered a brief storm in Chelsea's second half. 71 minutes: Chelsea besieged the Real Madrid goal and won a corner. The ball rattles off his knee and bounces far. 70 min: Another chance for Chelsea as Mason Mount runs towards a breaking ball and curls it over the post from 25 yards inches. Premier League: Now who will Frank Lampard blame for Burnley beating Everton with the odd goal from five at Turf Moor? 66 mins: Valverde advances down the right flank for Real Madrid but is forced back. Modric picks up the ball but is disowned by Mount. Shortly after, Havertz wins a free kick down the left after being fouled by Ferland Mendy. 63 min: Lots of huffing and puffing from Chelsea, but to little effect. Chelsea double substitution: Romelu Lukaku and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Jorginho and Christian Pulisic. Mendy catches a ball over the top, comes out of his penalty area and sells Rüdiger with a short pass. Benzema steals in, nods the ball and rolls it into a gaping goal. Rüdiger couldn't foul a yellow card and only half-heartedly defended himself. Karim Benzema deflects the ball from Antonio Rüdiger ... And shoots the ball into the empty goal for a hat trick. 60 min: There is a break in play as Eder Militao is treated for injury. He limps off to receive more barrel repairs and restart the game with a Chelsea throw-in. 58 min: Just inside the Real penalty area, Christian Pulisic shifts the ball to his left foot and floats the ball harmlessly towards Courtois at the near post. 55 min: It's worth noting that Karim Benzema, despite being around 77 years old, sprinted out of his own half leading up to that third goal just for the chance of Edouard Mendy screwing up his pass to Antonio Rudiger after advancing out of his penalty area to process a ball from deep. The Chelsea goalkeeper did his duty and Benzema took advantage. Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid into the top corner with a great shot from 12 yards out after ending a pullback from Vinicius Junior. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema rolls away jubilantly after scoring his first goal. Photo: Tony O'Brien/Reuters Benzema celebrates with his Real Madrid team-mates. A quick recap: Real Madrid went two goals ahead thanks to two great headers from Karim Benzema but were pushed back by a Kai Havertz header in the 40th minute. There is only one goal but Benzema missed a great opportunity to score his hat-trick just before half-time. 49 min: Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, I tried to tell you about Mateo Kovacic, who switched to a back four for Andreas Christensen and Chelsea. 46min: Andreas Christensen was rolled over by Vinicius Junior in the first half and got the halftime hook... 11min: Chelsea corner. Champions League: Daniel Harris has the latest from the quarter-final first leg between Villarreal and Bayern Munich. Premier League: There have been four goals so far in the Premier League encounter between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor - find out who scored them with Tim de Lisle... Peep: Real Madrid ended a delightfully entertaining first half on the forefoot and go into the break leading through the odd gate of three. Jorginho puts the ball on the edge of the six-yard box after receiving an inside pass from James. Kai Havertz sends a header past Courtois unmarked. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images 44 mins: Kai Havertz controls a retreat from James on the edge of the box and tries to roll the ball into Thibaut's far post. 42 mins: Another counterattack from Real Madrid and Benzema misses an absolute sitter after being teased by a combination of a Vinicius Junior cross and a poor interception from Jorginho. With goal gaping, he sends his little effort past the far post when you would have bet the farm on him to score. 26 min: Chelsea supporters behind Thibaut Courtois' goal scream for a penalty as Kai Havertz goes down under a 'challenge' from Casemiro. French referee Clement Turpin has none of it - the benevolent view would suggest Havertz fell. Chelsea's Kai Havertz falls after a tackle from Real Madrid's Casemiro. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 37 mins: Reece James drills a cross into Real's penalty area and tries to pick N'Golo Kante from the edge of the six-yard box. Militao clears the corner. Benzema goes home a second! Real Madrid doubled their lead with their French striker deflecting a superb header over the goal and into the far post while leaning back to reach the cross. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema sends another header towards goal... Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters And it flies past Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Benzema has doubled the visitors' lead. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian 35 min: N'Golo Kante tries It's a long-range shot, but the ball drifts high and harmlessly past the Real goal. 33 min: Dani Carvajal starts deep in his own half and tries to get on target with a side shot from six meters. Mendy makes an unconvincing save and Andreas Christensen chops the ball clear. Karim Benzema has now scored 5 goals in his last 52 minutes in the Champions League for Real Madrid. - Get Spanish Soccer News (@GSpanishFN) 6 Apr 2022 30 mins: Another header - this time Militao connects with the inswinger. He deflects the ball straight into Edouard Mendy's hands. 29 mins: A mix-up at the back for Chelsea results in Reece James giving away a very cheap corner. 28 minutes: A real lead thanks to two wonderful header goals from Karim Benzema. Luka Modric provided the assist for the second, courtesy of a nice little dink from the inside right line as Real broke on a counterattack up front. 23 mins: Toni Kroos is back on the ground and holding his shin after emerging second best from a tussle with Jorginho. 20 mins: Mason Mount tries to head a ball from deep over Real's goal but nods the ball straight into Courtois' hands. 18 min: Thibaut Courtois continues to be booed every time the ball comes his way. Antonio Rudiger is cautioned for a foul on Federico Valverde right in the Chelsea half. Not long ago, it was pouring rain at Stamford Bridge, where the players of both teams were standing on the pitch completing the last formalities before the game. They line up on either side of French referee Clement Turpin and his team of match officials in front of the Champions League anthem, which is drowned out by the noise from the stands. Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gets soaked while warming up. Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock Photo: Javier García/Shutterstock 14 mins: The first quarter of an hour flew by, with neither team claiming dominance. After a Chelsea free-kick, Eder Militao is cautioned for a foul on Kai Havertz just outside the Real penalty area. He really panicked when the German lunged at him and wrestled him to the ground. Reece James takes the free kick and his low curler gets Courtois to make a pretty easy save. 12 min: A goal was scored in the game between Villarreal and Bayern Munich – but for whom, Daniel Harris? 10 min: Andreas Christensen slips and Vinicius Junior smashes the ball against the bar after receiving a skillful backheel from Karim Benzema. 9 mins: Mason Mount wins the ball in midfield and plays it wide to Reece James on the right touchline. Real Madrid wins it back immediately. 7 min: A rather frenetic start is interrupted by a body check by N'Golo Kante on Toni Kroos in the center circle. Free kick for Real Madrid as the German goes down holding his hip and winces. 4th Min: N'Golo Kante fights for the ball halfway in his own half and plays it forward to Kai Havertz for pursuit. He advances, then slices into Eder Militao before firing high and wide. 3 min: Real enjoys a period of possession and plays the ball back towards Thibaut Courtois. The ex-Chelsea goalkeeper is being jeered by the home fans just as ruthlessly as he was when his name was read out by the announcer before kick-off. 1 minute: Chelsea get the ball rolling and it blows to the right touchline. Mason Mount whips up a superb cross into the Real Madrid box, where Dani Carvajal does just enough to stop Christian Pulisic from sweeping home. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA Clement Turpin shows the way forward in Italy's recent World Cup defeat by North Macedonia. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images Thibaut Courtois: As Carlo Ancelotti has yet to fly to London after posting a negative Covid test, he was unavailable for his media duties yesterday. Old Chelsea boy Thibaut Courtois was on hand to discuss Real Madrid's chances. It's a new season, it's the quarter-finals first leg and we all feel really good and know what's at stake. We will do everything to win the game. If we create the right intensity, we're able to win.” Thibaut Courtois made 126 appearances for Chelsea between 2011 and 2018. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters Thomas Tuchel: "The Champions League is terribly tough all the time," said Chelsea's manager during his pre-game press conference. We can handle it, but it's what we choose and love. It's nice to have experiences like that.” “We should be aware that teams with that kind of quality, flair and experience can create a special occasion. It's also a special occasion for us, so we're pretty excited. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP A stone in Real's boot: That's how Chelsea were described in today's edition of Spanish sports daily Marca, given the difficulties Real have faced them in previous encounters. Chelsea beat Real in the Champions League semi-finals last season and have never lost to the Spanish visitors in what might have been five meetings since 1971. Ben Chilwell remains long absent for CHelsea and is unlikely to feature again this season, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to play tonight as he has a number of different back and achilles injuries. Christian Pulisic is back in contention for a place in the starting XI after being rested following his late return from the weekend's international game with USA. Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make way for Mateo Kovacic or Jorginho from the side that lost to Brentford. Eden Hazard is out for Real Madrid after potentially season-ending surgery and will not be reunited with his former Chelsea team-mates. Eden Hazard's disastrous spell at Real Madrid has been punctuated by a string of injuries with no end in sight. He won't play against Chelsea in this quarter-final and probably won't play for Real again this season. Photo: Ricardo Larreina/AP Chelsea host Real Madrid in the first leg of a delicious quarter-final game that's almost impossible to name. The reigning champions booked their place in the last eight with a fairly straight win over Lille, while Real Madrid advanced thanks to a commendable comeback against serial Champions League winners Paris Saint-Germain. After missing out on Real's La Liga win over Celta Vigo at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti is returning to his old rout, coming the day after his team finally tested negative for Covid after several days of trying. Kick-off at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea were absolutely battered by Brentford on Saturday, is at 8pm (BST).

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Latest Champions League results and goal updates as Havertz pulls one back

Follow all the action from the first leg of the Quarter-Finals at Stamford Bridge (Author: Gardener)

HavertzWatch live as Chelsea continue their Champions League title defense tonight as the Blues welcome Real Madrid to a quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. In a repeat of one of last season's semi-finals, which saw the Premier League side emerge 3-1 aggregate winners, Chelsea and Real will vie for a last four tie with either Manchester City or Atletico Madrid. The game comes just four days after the Blues' stunning 4-1 defeat by Brentford in the Premier League, although their form before that shock result showed promise. Meanwhile, Real beat Celta Vigo 2-1 at the weekend, a much-needed positive reaction after beating rivals Barcelona 4-0 in El Clasico. The Spaniards, now managed by ex-Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, have won this competition more times than any other club (13) and showed their skills in the final round when Karim Benzema secured a hat-trick in the second leg in an unlikely comeback- Victory over Paris Saint Germain. Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel's Blues edged Lille 4-1 in two games. Havertz heads home to get Chelsea back in the game (1-2) Benzema quick in the double with a second header (0-2) 40 mins: Chelsea are back! Reece James drives the ball down the right wing and brings it to the edge of the box. He passes inside to Jorginho, who lifts the ball to the center of the box. Kai Havertz runs over Dani Carvajal's shoulder and hits the ball in the air. His header is good and beats the keeper, although Thibaut Courtois gets a hand on the ball! 36 mins: Kante comes into the box to receive the ball but Casemiro manages to put it behind him for a corner. Mason Mount brings it in the middle and Thiago Silva bursts through a cluster of bodies to put his effort wide of the target. Dani Carvajal appears in the center of the pitch for Real Madrid and slides the ball to Karim Benzema before continuing his run into the penalty area. Benzema gives it to Valverde, who shoves a pass into the box which Carvajal collects. Edouard Mendy puts out a hand to keep them away and Andreas Christensen completes the clearance for Chelsea. 30 minutes: Chelsea is still dangerous. Reece James carries the ball down the right side and gets Kai Havertz out with a nice pass over the front edge of the box. The forward only sees a shot but Luka Modric climbs back and knocks the ball back to his keeper but Havertz is able to shoot. Kai Havertz prefers the first variant and puts the ball in the penalty area. 24 minutes: Benzema again! He has his second in three minutes with another fine header. Luka Modric swings the ball from the inside channel into the penalty area and Benzema just barely lets it land. 21 minutes: What a goal! Real Madrid add some pace to their attack with Karim Benzema dropping to collect the ball and turning it towards goal. He directs a pass to Vinicius Junior, who sprints away from Andreas Christensen and carries the ball to the touchline. He bangs it back into the box, where Benzema hits the ball with a perfectly executed header that hits Edouard Mendy at the near post! 19 mins: Antonio Rudiger joins Eder Militao in the book thanks to a clumsy nudge at Valverde. He is then encouraged to shoot when the ball comes at him just outside the box. He has scored from similar positions before but decides against it this time. Instead, the ball is chipped into the box where Mason Mount reaches the ball first and heads it safely into Thibaut Courtois' hands. The free kick is almost 20 meters to the left of the goal. There are a couple of potential set pieces but this one remains Reece James whipping a decent low curling shot on target and forcing a jump stop on Thibaut Courtois! Real Madrid appeared to be in control of the ball as it was returned to Militao. He controls the ball wrong and gives Kai Havertz the time he needs to gain possession of the ball on the edge of Madrid's penalty area. Militao panics and pulls Havertz to the ground, giving Chelsea a free-kick in a dangerous area. What a counterattack by Real Madrid. They win the ball in the middle of the field and Karim Benzema charges forward on the right flank. He plays a pass into the path of Federico Valverde, who drives to the edge of the box and shoots the ball to Vinicius Junior. He rolls it onto his right foot and shoots, smashing his shot off the bar allowing Chelsea to clear their lines! 9 mins: N'Golo Kante wraps up Toni Kroos and gives away a free-kick to Real Madrid. It's picked up quickly, with the ball slammed into the right side of Chelsea's box to match Federico Valverde's run off the wing. Edouard Mendy makes an early decision to come out and get the ball, beating the midfielder right inside his own box and managing to control him to end the attack. Kai Havertz gets his first goal glimpse with a run into the right side of the penalty area. This allows Havertz to check in on his preferred left foot and put a shot away. Alaba stretches out a leg at the last moment and manages to touch the ball, sending the shot wide of the far post. 3 mins: Karim Benzema drops a little low to receive the ball from Toni Kroos and slide Vinicius Junior down the left wing. The ball comes over to Eder Militao, who has fought his way up from defence, and his long-range shot goes wide of the target. Kai Havertz starts the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. The ball comes back to Antonio Rüdiger, who sends a diagonal pass to Reece James. Mason Mount runs down the left and gets the ball, swinging an early cross that almost caused trouble for the Real Madrid defence, but David Alaba covered Christian Pulisic's run and the ball bounced safely through the box. Chelsea are the reigning European champions and face 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid. They have never been beaten by Madrid and Thomas Tuchel has never lost to a Spanish side as a coach. Is tonight the night they do that or can the Blues win the second leg at the Bernabeu? A note on team selection from Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who explained why he chose Cesar Azpilicueta over Marcos Alonso. David Alaba is making his 100th appearance in the Champions League this evening, making him the first Austrian to reach this mark. From his first 99 games in the competition, he has won 69, which is already the most wins by a player in his first 100 games in the competition. Since Thomas Tuchel's first Champions League game as Chelsea manager, the Blues have kept 10 clean sheets in 15 games; most of any team. They also have the lowest goals-against-per-game ratio (0.47) during that period, conceding just seven goals. It's raining quite heavily around Stamford Bridge as players warm up on the pitch. Mason Mount makes his 150th appearance for Chelsea in all competitions tonight, 25 of those games being in the Champions League. He has been involved in 50 goals for the Blues (25 goals and 25 assists), including five in this competition (two goals and three assists). Chelsea have played 13 home and away games against Spanish clubs - winning six of those games and losing seven. The Londoners went unbeaten in their first five home knockout games against Spanish sides in Uefa competition (W4 D1) but managed just three wins in the following eight games (D3 L2). Head coach Thomas Tuchel is also unbeaten against Spanish clubs with four wins and five draws. Thibaut Courtois has urged Chelsea's eventual new owners to take the helm at Stamford Bridge, knowing they are buying "one of the best clubs in the world". The Belgium goalkeeper will be back at his old playground at Stamford Bridge when Real Madrid take on Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg. Four rival syndicates are locked in negotiations to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, who is selling the west London club amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. And Courtois, 29, urged Chelsea's suitors to keep the Blues at the top of the world game. Thibaut Courtois says Chelsea are 'one of the best clubs in the world'. Chelsea and Real Madrid have both scored 17 goals and conceded five in their eight Champions League games this season. Real Madrid have met Chelsea five times without beating them. It is the most games against a single opponent that the Spanish team has gone without a win. Edouard Mendy kept nine clean sheets in 12 Champions League games last season, the most in a season by a goalkeeper for an English side in the history of the competition. He has added five more to his seven appearances this season and conceded just two goals. This season, the Blues looked set to finish top of Group H after a 4-0 home win over Juventus in their penultimate game gave the English club a head-to-head advantage over the Italians Rivals after a 1-0 defeat in Turin. However, a Zenit goal four minutes into injury time resulted in a 3–3 draw that left Chelsea on 13 points, two behind Juventus. It was a stroke of luck as the London club clinched four wins in four at Stamford Bridge with a 2-0 first-leg win over Lille and then secured a place in the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win in France. Excitement builds at Stamford Bridge ahead of kick-off. Hakim Ziyech spoke about last season's Champions League win over Real Madrid and says tonight's game will be a completely different scenario. "They [Real Madrid] have also improved as a squad, with some young players, so it's a completely different game to last year. "We know how difficult it can be against Real Madrid. Thomas Tuchel is hoping Carlo Ancelotti can shake off his positive Covid test in time to be on the sidelines for Wednesday's Champions League clash between Chelsea and Real Madrid. Real's former Chelsea boss Ancelotti did not travel to London with Madrid on Tuesday as he continues to return positive coronavirus tests. The 62-year-old is still hoping to return a negative test in time to fly to London for the quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. Ancelotti's absence would no doubt be a blow to Madrid, but Chelsea boss Tuchel is still hoping his counterpart can sit in the dugout. Tuchel missed Chelsea's Club World Cup semifinals after testing positive for Covid but was able to jet to Abu Dhabi in time to coach the Blues to their triumph over Palmeiras in the final on February 12. Thomas Tuchel hopes Carlo Ancelotti can stand on the touchline at Stamford Bridge. Both teams beat French opponents in the round of 16 this season. Karim Benzema's hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain while Chelsea edged past Lille. This is one of two 2021/22 quarter-finals between former European champions, the other being Benfica's draw with Liverpool. Holders Chelsea are aiming for a fifth straight Champions League knockout round win for the first time in their history. Eden Hazard played for Chelsea between 2012 and 2019 before joining Real Madrid. He scored 110 goals in 352 games in all competitions for the Blues. There have been rumors of his possible return to the club. Hazard hasn't repeated his Chelsea form for Real and his career in Spain has been marred by injuries. He has not played since coming on as a late substitute in the 3-0 home win against Alavés on 19 February and will miss both games in this quarter-final. Christian Pulisic put in a fantastic performance against Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge last season and the American is looking forward to facing the La Liga leaders again tonight. The Chelsea midfielder said: "We got a good result [against them] last year and we hope to do the same this year. It's a knockout game in the Champions League and it won't be easy, but having won everything last season we should be confident." to sign a new Chelsea deal didn't backfire. Christensen appeared close to signing a new Chelsea contract in November and Tuchel even challenged the 25-year-old to sign at Stamford Bridge Club in a bid to fulfill his rich potential. Barcelona expect to bring Christensen to the Nou Camp in the summer, with Chelsea boss Tuchel insisting any decision made by the Danish star must be respected. Thomas Tuchel makes four changes from the Chelsea side who lost to Brentford at the weekend. Andreas Christensen and Reece James are recalled to bolster defenses. Jorginho is partnered by N'Golo Kante in midfield Christian Pulisic starts up front along with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount. Around this time last year, as Thomas Tuchel's reinvention of Chelsea began with a remarkable 14-game unbeaten streak, something strange happened. On what should have been a routine afternoon at Stamford Bridge against relegation contenders West Brom, Chelsea were unceremoniously throttled to a 5-2 defeat by Sam Allardyce's cold hand. Instead, of course, within the next two months Chelsea secured fourth place and won the Champions League. Well, not for Brentford, playing to such an electric counter-rhythm, it amounted to a kind of shock therapy for Chelsea's defence, which went utterly insane during a blistering eleven-minute second-half streak. Chelsea's 14-game unbeaten streak in all competitions (W12, D2) ended on Saturday when they lost 4-1 at home to London rivals Brentford at Stamford Bridge, their first loss to the Bees since 1939. The four goals conceded The weekend equaled Chelsea's seven previous home games in all competitions combined, a four-goal streak. Goals from Timo Werner (28) and Mason Mount (85) secured a 2-0 second-leg win at Stamford Bridge last season as Chelsea beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League semi-finals. The first leg in Spain had ended 1-1, Christian Pulišić's 14th-minute opener for the visitors being ruled out 15 minutes later by Karim Benzema. The teams had met just three times before last season - in two finals both won by Chelsea and unbeaten against Madrid. Their last meeting before 2021 came at the 1998 Uefa Super Cup in Monaco, when a goal by Gustavo Poyet seven minutes from time at the Stade Louis II gave holders Chelsea a 1-0 win over Madrid, who went through the Champions League had qualified for a win. The English club also won the final of the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup against Madrid in Piraeus. The first game ended 1-1, Peter Osgood's 56th-minute goal at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadion being leveled by Ignacio Zoco in the final minute. Two days later at the same stadium, first-half goals from John Dempsey (31) and again Osgood (39) gave Chelsea their first European title, although Sebastián Fleitas struck for Madrid with 15 minutes remaining. This is the second time in as many seasons that Real Madrid and Chelsea have met in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Last year, the Blues beat Real 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals and lifted the trophy by beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final. Can they beat Real again this time? Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois doesn't think so: "Last season's duel was different. There were no fans and it was in the semifinals. Speaking ahead of tonight's quarter-final game, Thomas Tuchel said he was looking forward to a special occasion at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea manager said: "We should be very aware that teams with that kind of quality, flair and experience can create a special occasion. While we await the reveal of Chelsea's starting XI, here are some team news that could come into play. Jorginho, Reece James and Mateo Kovacic could all be on the bench for the Blues' 4-1 home defeat to Brentford in the Premier League at the weekend. One person who will not be at Stamford Bridge is former Blues forward Eden Hazard. He has not traveled with the Real team after undergoing surgery to remove a metal plate in his right leg. Thibaut Courtois returns to Stamford Bridge tonight at a difficult time for the Blues who are awaiting new owners after current owner Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale. Courtois has played more than 150 games for 'one of the best clubs in the world' and says the potential bidders will buy 'one of the best clubs in the world'. "I think it's been a tough month for the club and the fans but I think it shows." All the people who love Chelsea really put all their energy together," Courtois said. “The new owners need to know which club they are buying. "All in all I was a part of Chelsea for seven years and that was a big part of my career. I hope the new owners understand what they are buying and that Chelsea can remain one of the best clubs in the world." Thibaut Courtois has said he hopes to make a "happy return" to Stamford Bridge with Real Madrid but admits Chelsea fans could boo him. Courtois left Chelsea for the Spanish capital in 2018 after clearly stating his desire to leave the club and his agent later explained that this was due to the Belgian's desire to be close to his family as he had previously Having played in Madrid for Atletico while on loan from the London club and Chelsea had to face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Courtois will return to west London in the first leg on Wednesday. The two sides met behind closed doors last year but this is the first time the Belgium goalkeeper has played in front of Chelsea supporters since his chaos e exit from the club - and Courtois is aware of the welcome he could receive. Thibaut Courtois hopes Chelsea fans won't boo him on his return to Stamford Bridge. Lucas Vasquez and Marco Asensio are both eliminated, with Dani Carvajal and Federico Valverde the preferred options for tonight's game. Real Madrid have published their starting line-up for tonight's clash at Stamford Bridge. Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is expected to be present for tonight's Champions League quarter-final game against Chelsea after missing the La Liga game against Celta Vigo due to a positive Covid-19 test. Ancelotti, 62, did not travel to London with his players and staff for the first leg against his former side on Tuesday but tested negative on Wednesday. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Tuesday he hopes Ancelotti will make it to the game, saying: "It's always a lot better and nicer to be there and have direct influence. He's a big, big manager, a great personality, that would be nice." having him on the sidelines in games like this. Welcome to The Independent's coverage of the Champions League quarter-final first leg between Chelsea and Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge. Thomas Tuchel's side enter this game after a shocking 4-1 win over Brentford on Saturday and amid uncertainty over the club's ownership following the forced sale of Roman Abramovich. However, Chelsea were in fine form ahead of the Brentford defeat, while Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 2-1 at the weekend to respond to a 4-0 demolition of El Clasico rivals Barcelona. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick in the second leg and secured an unlikely comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain in the preliminary round, while Chelsea edged Lille 4-1 in two games to reach that stage. Everything is set for an intriguing quarter-final draw.

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Man City have title lead over Liverpool

John Stones said Manchester City will use their experience from the 2019 title race to meet Liverpool's challenge this season. (Author: Gardener)

LiverpoolSteve Nicol and Don Hutchison share their thoughts on the Manchester City-Liverpool clash and the impact the game is having on the title race. Steve Nicol and Don Hutchison share their thoughts on the Manchester City-Liverpool clash and the impact the game is having on the title race. John Stones said Manchester City will use their experience from the 2019 Premier League title race to meet Liverpool's challenge this season. The two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, separated by a point at the top of the table. Momentum has shifted towards Liverpool after they closed a gap that was 14 points at one point, but Stones insists City have already shown they have what it takes to hold off Jurgen Klopp's side in a close title race , as they won the league on the final day of 2018-19 by a single point. "It depended on the last game [in 2019], so we've been in those situations before and we definitely learned from that experience," Stones said. "We're unbeaten 14 games and we know that every game is so important to us. The Etihad clash is being billed as a title decider but with eight games to go Stones has declined the suggestion that the winner be decided on Sunday and go ahead and lift the trophy in May." "I don't think too much about it, because you can get carried away. "Obviously it's an important game, we're first and second - everyone knows that - but we have to focus on ourselves and how we play our football and not change our football." We're human and we know what's on this game and how important it is to us, but every game this season has been a final for us, so we don't approach it any differently. "There's obviously that extra excitement about the game personally and what it means, but it's just another game. It doesn't necessarily mean what will end at the end of the season.” City's meeting with Liverpool this weekend will be the second in a pivotal ten days for Guardiola's side. It started with the 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday and also includes the return trip to Madrid next week and the FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool at Wembley on April 16. "This week is crucial for us how we prepare and we're staying calm because we've been in situations like this before," Stones said To keep improving as individuals and as a team." and I think that's why we've been so successful over the years, with the respect we have for the opposition and the way we focus on ourselves and know what we can influence, that's how we train this week, prepare mentally and physically for this week and give it our all for ourselves and our team-mates."

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The dangerous Los Angeles Clippers are potential first-round opponents for the Phoenix Suns

With Paul George back and Norman Powell on track to return, the Clippers could be a dangerous playoff opponent for the Suns to face in the first round. (Author: Gardener)

Los Angeles ClippersLOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers did not take on the Phoenix Suns with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor this season. Leonard has not played since suffering a partial cruciate ligament rupture in last year's Western Conference semifinals against Utah. George has only played 29 games this season, but he's back after three months out with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right shooting arm. The Clippers (39-40) survived without their 1-2 batting and will be the eighth seed in the April 12-15 play-in tournament. So the Suns could face the team they beat last year to reach the finals in the first round of this year's playoffs, beginning April 16. "Any team that definitely sees us is going to be something different," Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. told reporters in Los Angeles after Sunday's win over New Orleans. Not really surprised, but if I were a team and happened to get us in eighth place, I'd say, damn, this is going to be a tough run.” The Suns (63-16) already have the No. 1 overall finish in the playoffs. They are up 2-1 this season with the Clippers ahead of Wednesday's matchup at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, but George did not play in those three games. "We're a confident group and we believe we can compete and play and beat anyone," George said on Sunday. but I thought they've managed our season great up to this point, but we're a confident group." George returned on March 29 and scored 34 points as he led the Clippers to a comeback home win over the Jazz. Los Angeles trailed by 25. George has played in two more games since then, scoring 22 in overtime in Chicago on Thursday and 15 against the Pelicans on Sunday To get the point," George said when asked if he was ready for the playoffs. "Just the intensity, the mindset and just the mentality that goes into the games to start the games right. Of course those games too win and do what I have to do to win, but it's more just to get rhythm, to get timing.” The Clippers play their last three regular-season games at home on Wednesday against Phoenix, am sat mstag against Sacramento and on Sunday against Oklahoma City. "We still have to improve," said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue on Sunday (George's) minutes up, trying to get his wind right. George has played an average of 30.6 minutes in his three past games. During the season he played an average of 35 minutes per game. “We went backwards to get to where we are now. Now we have to ramp it up, the boys play more minutes.” The Clippers are 16-13 with Paul, 23-27 without him. "I think my return definitely gives our dressing room even more of that certainty that we can put together another great postseason," said George, who is averaging 24.6 points this season. The Clippers could also have Norman Powell back for the play-in. He's only played three games for the Clippers since arriving in a trade from Portland, but Powell completed pre-game practice on the court involving moves, dribbling, driving and shooting ahead of Sunday's game. "Norm's a pro," George said of Powell. The two haven't played together this season. "I think with him he's a basketball player, and he knows how to do it." He knows how to play at a high level plays. The Clippers are playing seventh-place play-in in Minnesota. The winner plays second-placed Memphis in the first round. The Clippers are 3–1 with the Timberwolves, but lost their last matchup to Minnesota in January. The loser of the Clippers-T-Wolves game will set the 9-10 winner for the eighth seed and a first round matchup against Phoenix. Leonard will likely miss the rest of this season. The Clippers eliminated top-seeded Utah without him last year but fell to the Suns in the Conference Finals. Los Angeles could have leveled last year's best-of-7 streak, but Deandre Ayton's "Valley-Oop" dunk with 0.7 seconds left gave the Suns an incredible 104-103 win to edge them 2-0 to set up. Phoenix eliminated the Clippers in Game 6 in Los Angeles. Now they may meet in the playoffs for a second straight season.

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A definitive ranking of blame for the Los Angeles Lakers' most disappointing season ever

There's a lot of blame for everyone, including LeBron James. (Author: Gardener)

the Los Angeles Lakers'I always thought it would be hard to top the disappointment of the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers. This should be one of the greatest teams ever assembled. You bring in Dwight Howard in his prime, Steve Nash fresh off a Western Conference Finals run and you're running them alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace? Yes, that sounds world class to me. But it obviously wasn't. Well, until he tore his Achilles tendon at the end of the season. Somehow, however, this current Lakers team has fared worse. They got one of the greatest players of all time in LeBron James who teamed up with Anthony Davis and then they added a Hall of Famer like Russell Westbrook. Many people had this team set for a preseason NBA Finals. But they narrowly missed the playoffs. They won't even make the play-in. This Lakers team is absolutely the biggest disappointment in franchise history. People are probably surprised that Westbrook only gets 10% of the blame here. He's had a pretty terrible season by his own standards. His player efficiency rating was literally the lowest of his career at a spot-on 15, which is widely considered to be the mark of a roughly average NBA player. The Lakers didn't trade Russ for being average. Despite this, Westbrook was completely out of his element this season. After playing with the ball in his hands his entire career, he essentially sacrificed point guard duty to LeBron James, as is generally the way to go. But he was asked to play a style that didn't suit him and it's not his fault. Anthony Davis just wasn't there enough for the Lakers, and if we're being honest, that's probably at the root of their downfall. In a perfect Lakers world, Davis is probably their best player, anchoring their defense and crushing opposing bigs on offense. Davis played 40 games that year. He also played 36 in the 2020/21 season. That's 76 games over two seasons - less than half of the 154 total games played. That's his biggest mistake at this point. But the thing is, Davis isn't asking to be hurt. He doesn't try to sit out games. These things just happen. You can't blame him for that. That's why it's only 10%. Frank Vogel is said to be the mastermind behind the whole thing. He is meant to guide his players and make important decisions in tight games that will change the tide for the Lakers. But it kind of felt like he'd been doing the opposite all season. He used two big lineups far too often when Anthony Davis was healthy and paired him with Deandre Jordan or Dwight Howard early in the season instead of just playing Davis at center. And he did that while playing Russell Westbrook as point guard, which left three non-shooters out there at any given time. He was their best shot and probably should have started a lot more than he did. But here, too, Vogel worked with what he had. That roster was just far too poorly constructed to give Vogel much of the blame. When the Lakers made the trade with Russell Westbrook, the idea was that their athleticism and speed would overwhelm everyone else. So what if they gave up two rotation players in Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for this? That was the thinking there. And it turned out to be completely wrong. When you match three big salaries like James, Westbrook, and Davis, you need to fill out the rest of the list of minimum contracts and cheap deals because that's all you can afford. But the thing about these cheap deals is that they're cheap for a reason. These players are not that good anymore. At first they may never have been so good. And while James, Davis, and Westbrook may have been good enough in the past to make this work, they absolutely aren't today. Pelinka should have seen that. He should have been more honest about his talent and he shouldn't have made the leap into the Westbrook trade. It doomed her season. Look I know what you're thinking. LeBron James is currently averaging 30.3 points per game due to his incredible efficiency. He was one of the best players in the NBA and he is also 37 years old. He did his best this season to avert the Lakers' downfall, and he deserves credit for that. But how much credit should one get for cleaning up a mess they're partly responsible for? Here's a tidbit from an article in The Athletic that dives into the inner workings of the Lakers' off-season war room, in which LeBron James was essentially a lead. It had everything to do with the Lakers not making a move for Buddy Hield and trading Westbach for him. "All along the way, it's clear that James - who had everything to do with Davis returning to the Lakers in November 2019 - once again led the way on the recruiting front. His undeniable influence and outspoken style inevitably reignited discussion of the inner workings of the Lakers.” But Davis, James and Westbrook all got together about it, according to the LA Times, and decided they could play together. The idea was that they had a player built for the postseason and not just the regular season. And it was one where James took the lead. Obviously, he didn't call Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard to ultimately make the move. But he actively recruited Westbrook. And ultimately, if he wanted the deal to be finalized, it always had to be finalized. That's the way things work. Sure, James has been amazing this season. But he does it in a mess he's partly to blame for.

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