As far as Champions League quarterfinals go, Real Madrid had a relatively comfortable night against Chelsea on Wednesday.
The Spanish giant breezed past its English visitor 2-0 to take a strong advantage going into next week’s second leg but, despite the relative ease in which it won, Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois still had regrets.
Los Blancos dominated large periods of the game throughout and limited Chelsea to very few chances.
The Premier League side then had to play the last 30 minutes with 10 men after defender Ben Chilwell was shown a straight red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
“Every time you play a big knockout match, you’re left with the sensation that you could have, should have, killed the tie off,” former Chelsea keeper Courtois told reporters after the game.
“This is a good result, but we’re bugged by the fact that we didn’t score a third or even a fourth goal. I hope we don’t regret not having added another when we play again next week.”
Karim Benzema had given Madrid the lead from close range in the first half – his 90th career goal in the competition – before substitute Marco Asensio doubled the advantage in the 74th minute with a stunning strike.
In truth, Madrid could have scored even more against a Chelsea team struggling for form.
The London club sacked manager Graham Potter last week and put former player and boss Frank Lampard in temporary charge.
Despite the uncertainty swirling around the club, Chelsea co-owner and chairman Todd Boehly told Sky Sports that he predicted a 3-0 for his side; it’s safe to say the American was served a dose of reality.
In truth, a test against the reigning European champion was always going to be a tough ask for a club in crisis and it proved as much.
Chelsea now needs to score at least two goals without reply in the return leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to keep alive any hopes of progressing to the semifinals.
Lampard, who won the title as a player in 2012, is aware of the huge mountain to climb but knows this competition is used to seeing such comebacks.
“I think there were some good things from our display, but the result is a reality. I’ve said to the players in the dressing room though, special things can happen at Stamford Bridge,” Lampard told reporters.
“If you don’t believe in top level sport then things don’t happen for you. The mindset and the belief are a percentage of the game.
“The fans will believe, they will come and support us. I’ve been involved in games that have changed. The possibilities are ours for the taking.”
Milan shocks Napoli 1-0
Elsewhere on Wednesday, AC Milan produced a surprise result by beating Napoli 1-0 in the first leg of the other quarterfinal.
Napoli is currently leading Serie A and has been scintillating in the Champions League this season – it’s currently the joint top-scoring team alongside Manchester City.
Ismaël Bennacer scored the only goal of the game which also saw Napoli’s André-Frank Zambo Anguissa sent off.
The return leg will be held at Napoli’s iconic Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and the league leader will hope to have star striker Victor Osimhen back from injury.