Football: Real Madrid strike first in Champions League quarter-final tie against Chelsea

European champions Real Madrid have beaten 10-man Chelsea 2-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg courtesy of a tap-in by Karim Benzema and a powerful strike by substitute Marco Asensio in the Spanish capital on Thursday (NZ time).

Benzema, the scourge of Chelsea at the same stage of the competition last season, converted from point blank range in the 21st minute, when Kepa Arrizabalaga saved from Vinicius Junior but could only touch the ball in the direction of the Frenchman.

Chelsea went close to scoring in the first half through Joao Felix and Raheem Sterling but they were thwarted by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois playing against his former club.

The Londoners' chances of getting back into the game suffered a major setback in the 59th minute, when Ben Chilwell was shown a straight red card for bringing down Rodrygo with a tug of the Brazilian's shirt when he was bearing down on goal.

Asensio had been on the field for just three minutes when he was fed by Vinicius on the edge of the box and the Spain international drilled in a low shot that went through the legs of Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana and beyond Kepa's dive.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium puts the 14-time European champions in the driver's seat ahead of the second leg at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge on April 19.

 Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan celebrates his goal with teammates.
Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan celebrates his goal with teammates. Photo credit: Getty Images

In the day's second quarter-final, AC Milan took a step towards their first Champions League semi-final appearance for 16 years, as Ismael Bennacer's goal earned them a 1-0 win over Napoli in the quarter-final first leg at the San Siro.

On a rainy night, Serie A leaders Napoli's first European clash with seven-times European champions Milan was also their first appearance in the quarter-finals of Europe's most prestigious club competition.

Attempting to avenge their 4-0 home defeat by Milan in Serie A this month, Napoli began pressing immediately, but the hosts took the lead five minutes before the interval when Brahim Diaz teed up Bennacer who struck a low shot inside the far post.

Napoli's situation worsened 16 minutes from time when midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa received a second yellow card for pushing Theo Hernandez.

The second leg of the quarter-final is in Napoli on April 19.


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