Karim Benzema scored a hattrick at Stamford Bridge to lead Real Madrid past a woeful Chelsea 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
The reigning Champions League holders started the game on the front foot but it was the visitors who would open the scoring.
Benzema, fresh from his heroics in the previous game, smashed a header into the top corner past a diving Edouard Mendy from a cross by Vinicius Junior.
It did not take long for the Frenchman to double the lead for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Minutes after his first goal he guided another gorgeous header from Luka Modric’s pinpoint pass over the outstretched arms of Mendy to make it 2-0 to the visitors before 25 minutes.
Chelsea managed to hit back before the break. Kai Havertz powered a header of his own from Jorginho’s chipped-in ball past Thibaut Courtois to halve the deficit for Thomas Tuchel’s side after 45 thrilling minutes.
They were lucky to escape with only a goal down as Karim Benzema somehow missed a chance to have a first-half hattrick by putting his shot wide with only Mendy to beat.
Tuchel brought on Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech during half-time but it was Real who started the second half in style as Benzema completed his hattrick thanks to a Mendy blunder that allowed the Frenchman to shoot into an empty net.
Benzema’s three goals took his tally to 36 across all competitions on the season, second only to the 45 Robert Lewandowski has scored for Bayern Munich in Europe’s top-five leagues while breaking his own record as the oldest player to score a UCL hat trick at 34 years, 108 days.
Romelu Lukaku repeated Chelsea’s mistakes on the night after coming on for Pulisic.
The Belgian missed a glorious chance to cut into Real’s lead, but his glancing header from close range squirted wide of Courtois’ far post.
Real Madrid now takes a two-goal lead to the Santiago Bernabeu for the decisive second leg and a spot in the UCL semifinals.