Player ratings as Benzema hat-trick puts Blues to the sword

Chelsea’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread after the holders were soundly beaten by Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final clash, courtesy of a Karim Benzema masterclass at a sodden Stamford Bridge.

The hosts started brightly and controlled possession, but they were hit on the break by two devastating attacks inside half an hour and a sucker punch immediately after half-time as Benzema bagged his hat-trick.

Kai Havertz went close five minutes in, taking on his man before smashing the ball over the crossbar. At the other end, Vinicius Jr carried the ball forward in the left channel before seeing his bending effort clip the top of the woodwork.

Reece James called former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into action with a well-struck free kick after a quarter of an hour, with the Belgian able to push it away, but the subsequent period was all about one man: Benzema.

The Frenchman produced a three-minute heading masterclass to have Real two goals to the good midway through the half – first rising to expertly finish Vinicius’ clipped cross and repeating the trick by looping the ball back across goal and into the side-netting when Luka Modric’s sublime deep cross dropped square onto his forehead.

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