Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio scored the goals as Real Madrid beat ten-man Chelsea 2-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie.
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UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid are one step closer to retaining their title after a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
22' Benzema taps in close-range opener
23' Fine Courtois save denies Sterling
59': Chilwell sent off for fouling Rodrygo
74': Asensio scores from edge of area
Match in brief: headline
João Félix threatened for the Blues in the opening stages, but Madrid were into their stride soon enough. Vinícius Júnior was a constant thorn in the visitors' side so it was little surprise it was he who latched on to Dani Carvajal's pass and – on the stretch – got off a shot which Kepa Arrizabalaga could only parry into Benzema's path: UEFA Champions League goal No90 was on a plate.
Though only Thibaut Courtois' fine stop denied Raheem Sterling an instant riposte, the hosts cruised through the gears as the half progressed, going closest to a second when Thiago Silva cleared off the line.
Luka Modrić shot narrowly over early in the second half and any chance of a Chelsea comeback on the night looked to be over when Ben Chilwell was shown a straight red card just before the hour after bringing down Rodrygo with the Brazilian bearing down on goal.
Marco Asensio's composed finish to make it 2-0 – Vinícius again the architect – leaves Frank Lampard's side facing an uphill task at Stamford Bridge. They could have had a mountain to climb had Benzema not headed over late on, even if there was still time for Mason Mount to go close to halving their deficit.
PlayStation® Player of the Match: Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid)
"He was the outstanding individual threat for Madrid. Chelsea had a plan to stop him, but his consistency, intensity and energy throughout earned him two assists. This was yet another Champions League game in which he made the difference."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Graham Hunter, Real Madrid reporter
Madrid go onwards to London with their title defence still on track, but this was not plain sailing. That the European champions coped with Chelsea's game plan and intensity so admirably owed hugely to that Courtois save from Sterling and that scintillating Benzema-Vinícius combination which opened the scoring. Then there was yet another goal from a substitute, one of Madrid's super powers. The impression remains: to win this competition you have to get past Madrid.
Joseph Terry, Chelsea reporter
It's now been over six hours since Chelsea scored a goal. The Blues put in a decent performance here and kept the hosts mostly quiet, but even when they're not in top gear Madrid typically find a way to goal, especially at home. The tie is not quite finished, but Chelsea will need to rediscover their shooting boots if they're to have any chance.
Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid coach: "We played a complete match here. And we'll need to do so again in London to reach the semi-final. We set out with the objective to make sure that we established an advantage for the second leg and we did that. Chelsea are a very good team and, in moments, we had to suffer."
Vinícius Júnior, Player of the Match: "We played very well indeed, pressing all the time just like we did at this stage last season. This was one of our best performances of the season, but this is only half-time. There's a lot left in this tie. We just need to keep calm heads."
Frank Lampard, Chelsea coach: "I think we had some chances and there were some good things, but the result is the reality. I've said to the players that special things can happen at Stamford Bridge. They're a very good team but we have to believe."
Wesley Fofana, Chelsea defender: "It's a difficult night. For sure the result impacts the second leg because we lost tonight. It's difficult but it's just 2-0. Next week the game is at home in an amazing stadium at Stamford Bridge. Everybody is ready - ready to win and ready to go through."
Rio Ferdinand, BT Sport
"Vinícius Júnior was magnificent tonight and he'll do the same at Stamford Bridge. Reece James needs to prove he can cope with players at this level."
- Benzema is fourth on the all-time list with 90 Champions League goals, just one behind Robert Lewandowski.
- Benzema's last 14 goals in the Champions League have all come in the knockout stage.
- Benzema has scored eight goals – five against Chelsea – in the Champions League quarter-finals.
- Madrid are looking to win an 11th straight Champions League quarter-final tie.
- Madrid have failed to score in only one of their last 67 Champions League home games.
Vinícius Júnior - 13 points
David Alaba - 9 points
Karim Benzema - 7 points
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Éder Militão, Alaba, Camavinga (Rüdiger 71); Valverde, Kroos (Tchouameni 84), Modrić (Ceballos 81); Rodrygo (Asensio 71), Benzema, Vinícius Júnior
Chelsea: Kepa; Koulibaly (Cucurella 55), Thiago Silva (Mount 75), Fofana; James, Kanté (Gallagher 75), Enzo Fernández, Kovaćič, Chilwell; Sterling (Havertz 65), João Félix (Chalobah 65)
The second leg takes place in London on Tuesday 18 April; the aggregate winners play Man City or Bayern in the semi-finals.