Football Features

Player ratings as “the best no. 9 on the planet” kills Chelsea with a second-straight UCL hat-trick as Real Madrid win big

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:25, 6 April 2022

In a stunning night of football, Karim Benzema inspired Real Madrid to beat Chelsea 1-3 in the Champions League.

The win gives Los Blancos a tremendous advantage ahead of next week’s second-leg in the Spanish capital.

Here’s how the players rated at Stamford Bridge:

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Edouard Mendy – 4 – Could do nothing about Benzema’s two miraculous goals but when Chelsea had momentum he threw it all away with a catastrophic mistake to start the second-half and condemn Chelsea to defeat.

Andreas Christensen – 4 – Really struggled against Vini Jr.’s pace and movement. Hooked at half-time.

Thiago Silva – 4 – Defended well in general but was absolutely nowhere near Karim Benzema on both the Frenchman’s first-half goals. They were excellent finishes but Thiago Silva was all at sea.

Antonio Rudiger – 4 – Defended really well, especially second-half as Chelsea played very aggressively. But his tepid reaction to Mendy’s poor pass allowed Benzema to stream through and bag his hat-trick.

Reece James – 6 – Kept on trying to force things but couldn’t get any change out of the Madrid defence or Courtois.

N’Golo Kanté – 4 – Really awful. Didn’t attempt a single tackle and failed to stop the Madrid counters. This was a far cry from his dominance of last season, evidenced by him getting hooked at half-time.

Jorginho – 6 – Some nice passes and created the most chances for Chelsea. A beautiful assist for the Havertz goal and in all honesty, Chelsea lost a lot of direction once he went off the field.

Cesar Azpilicueta – 6 – Battled hard every second of the game but he just is not a left-back anymore.

Mason Mount – 6 – Fought to make something happen and came closer than most in Chelsea blue but it just wasn’t his night.

Christian Pulisic – 4 – Abysmal.

Kai Havertz – 7 – The only Chelsea player to emerge with reputation intact. Not only did he score a brave centre-forwards header to get Chelsea back into the game but he was constantly trying to conjure a goal with whatever tools he could think of. Dribbling, shooting, passing, he tried it all but just did not have enough help.

Chelsea Substitutes:

Mateo Kovacic (for Christensen 46′) – 6 – Was very safe witrh the ball but Chelsea needed more than safe.

Hakim Ziyech (for Kanté 46′) – 5 – Failed to impact the game at all. Missed a good chance in stoppage time.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (for Jorginho 64′) – 6 – Kept things moving with positive intent.

Romelu Lukaku (for Pulisic 64′) – 4 – He had one half-chance and missed it, then he had a sitter and missed that too. He was given the ideal chance to make himself the hero and he absolutely wasted it.

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Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 7 – Got done by the Havertz header but was otherwise at his impenetrable best. His save from Azpilicueta’s long-shot was outrageously good.

Dani Carvajal – 7 – Didn’t get anything like the chasing he did against PSG and really dug in well to protect Madrid’s lead with a game-high 5 clearances. A solid display.

Eder Militao – 7 – Struggled at first to get to grips with what little movement there was in the Chelsea attack, but just as he was finding his groove he got injured.

David Alaba – 7 – A professional display from the consumate professional. Nothing too great, but solid as ever.

Ferland Mendy – 8 – Offered a lot of resistence to Chelsea’s attempts to penetrate down his flank.

Casemiro – 8 – Looked at bit lost at first but was absolutely sensational once Madrid took the lead. Completely got into his zone, sweeping passing lanes, dropping between his centre-backs and just eliminating trouble wherever he found it.

Luka Modric – 8 – Once more Luka Modric defied age with another magnificent display. So elusive he danced around the Chelsea midfield that last year gave him a real chasing. His assist for Benzema’s second goal was absolutely delicious too.

Toni Kroos – 7 – 50 touches. 40 passes attempted. 37 passes completed at 93% accuracy. Just Toni Kroos things.

Fede Valverde – 8 – A monster display up and down the touchline from the Uruguayan. Offered plenty of defensive cover but also constantly ran forward to support the attack.

Vini Jr. – 7 – Wasted almost every chance his excellent movement and pace gave him, but at least he found time to set Benzema up for the opening goal. The cross asked a lot of his team-mate, but his team-mate had a lot to give.

Karim Benzema – 9 – Oh my god he did it again! After his heroics against PSG, King Karim delivered yet again with a near superhuman hat-trick to sink Chelsea. But it wasn’t just goals, as he was involved in everything good Madrid did as the fulcrum of their attack.

“He’s the best no. 9 on the planet for me,” said Rio Ferdinand after the match. “This guy at the moment is another level. He’s impacting the game in so many different areas.”

“In all aspects of his game he’s gone up another level,” added Joe Cole. And while that’s true, we cannot underestimate the three goals he scored tonight, each one full of unique excellence.

The first a powerful header from range, thrusting Vini Jr.’s cross into the net with so much verve that Mendy had no chance. The second a beautifully deft header moving away from goal almost just nodding the ball back beyond Mendy. And while the third goal was definitely two defensive errors it was Benzema’s intense pressing that allowed him to capitalise on those errors.

This was the first-time an opposing player had scored a Champions League hat-trick against Chelsea, it was also the first Madrid win against the Blues. Moreover, it was just the second-time in history a player has scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and Benzema was involved the first time too as it was Cristiano Ronaldo who pulled it off in 2016/17, alongside the Frenchman who now, five years hence, has taken the starring role and, at the age of 34, is the best player in the world.

“He’s gettin’ better with age,” said Joe Cole, while Rio Ferdinand was quick to point out Benzema’s iconic status as the Real Madrid leading man: “He’s the talisman, he’s the leader now.”

Real Madrid Substitutes:

Nacho (for Militao 64′) – 7 – Added solidity and covered nicely for Militao.

Eduardo Camavinga (for Kroos 74′) – 7 – Provided energy.

Gareth Bale (for Benzema 86′) – n/a – Came on late.

Dani Ceballas (for Valverde 86′) – n/a – Came on late.