Delightful Karim Benzema Hat-Trick Derails Champions League Holders Chelsea

The Frenchman inspired his side to a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge
22:02, 06 Apr 2022

Hat-trick hero Karim Benzema was the difference maker at Stamford Bridge as the Frenchman’s lethal finishing gave Real Madrid a vital 3-1 win. The Frenchman single-handedly took the first leg away from Champions League holders Chelsea with two sensational headers, before a defensive error gave him an easy finish to complete his hat-trick. 

He may not get the credit that Robert Lewandowski or Harry Kane do, but Benzema has established himself as one of - if not the - greatest striker on the planet. He becomes only the fourth player to score back-to-back hat-tricks in the Champions League after Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luiz Adriano and ends Real Madrid's run of six games without a win against Chelsea. 

His hat-trick against PSG happened in a chaotic second half, whereas tonight, he was more measured but equally as devastating. He’s now on 38 goals for the season, the most he has ever scored for Real Madrid, and is flourishing now the spotlight at the Bernabeu is his. 

His first came as Vinicius Jr played a rapid one-two to race down the left wing and as he dinked the ball back into the box, the Frenchman arched his neck to place a header into the top corner past Edouard Mendy. 

Benzema’s magic in the box then reached the next level minutes later as he made a slight movement in the box to lose his man and get on the end of a beautifully curled ball cross by Luka Modric. This time, Benzema was running away from goal and managed to place his header into the opposite corner. They were different in the way they were executed but each one was a showpiece of his sensational skill. 

When the ball hit the net for the second goal, it meant that in the last 53 minutes of Champions League action, Benzema had five goals to his name after that second half hat-trick sank PSG in the last round. 

The open nature of the game led to half chances at either end, as Chelsea appealed for a penalty, but Real Madrid were so dangerous when they came forward. Thiago Silva headed a stooped effort over the bar but Chelsea would score the all-important third goal before the break. 

Kai Havertz, who has scored so many vital goals for this club, including the winner in last season’s Champions League final, headed in from a wonderful Jorginho cross and Stamford Bridge came alive. They needed something to turn this tie around and all of a sudden the players on the pitch were producing. 

However, just before the break, Benzema should have completed his hat-trick. He was played in by Vinicius and found himself with a relatively simple finish to restore Real Madrid’s two-goal cushion, but he somehow slipped it wide of the post.

Thomas Tuchel made changes at the break as Mateo Kovacic replaced Andreas Christensen and Hakim Ziyech came on for N’Golo Kante. That move saw Chelsea switch to a back four, with Azplicueta at left-back as they tried to pin back the visitors who had enjoyed so much first-half joy. 

Those changes promised much, but all plans unravelled seconds into the half. A huge long ball from Real Madrid was controlled by Mendy midway inside his own half and he played a woeful pass in the direction of Rudiger, who couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Who else was there to tap into an empty net but Benzema, who scored his tenth goal in four games. 

Azpilicueta unleashed a rocket that Courtois tipped over and Romelu Lukaku was introduced as Chelsea chased a goal. The Belgian missed a golden opportunity as he was unmarked in the six-yard box but somehow put his header wide from close range, before Mount saw his long-range strike curl just over.

That was as close as Chelsea came to reducing the deficit, with that Lukaku chance the one that could have given them a half chance in Madrid. Now it looks like a massive order to keep their Champions League title defence alive. For Benzema and Real Madrid, they look like they could go all the way. 

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