Real Madrid have been slashed to 6/1 (from 14/1) to win the Champions League after the Karim Benzema-inspired outfit beat holders Chelsea 3-1 in a thrilling first-leg of their quarter-final tie at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Aging like a fine wine, the 34-year-old ran riot in the Capital, scoring yet another hat-trick to give his side a commanding aggregate lead heading into the second-leg at the Bernabeu next week.
Benzema’s first came around the 20th minute mark – a stunning header, from a difficult angle, lofted over the head of Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy and into the top-right corner.
The Frenchman’s second was very similar, just three minutes later, getting on the end of a vintage Luka Modric chip to expertly guide the ball past Mendy once again. He was putting on a masterclass, and the signs were ominous for Chelsea.
The ball by Modric 🤤
The precision from Benzema 👌
The Frenchman is on fire. Real Madrid are on fire.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2022
However, the champions forced their way back into the game not long before the break, as Kai Havertz bagged the third headed goal of the game. A little fortunate, as his aerial effort took a deflection off Courtois on its way into the back of the net, but a much-needed goal heading into half-time.
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The second-half was equally entertaining, despite just the one goal – again from that man Benzema, who capitalised on a colossal mix-up between Mendy and Rudiger to give Madrid a healthy cushion on the night.
Chelsea had chances to bridge the gap. Courtois somehow kept out an absolute rocket from Azpilicueta that looked destined for the top corner, Lukaku missed a free-header from point blank range and a curling effort from Mason Mount from just outside of the box found its way just over the bar.
However, it wasn’t to be for Thomas Tuchel’s side on the night, who face a huge task in Spain next week and have subsequently drifted out to 20/1 (from 12/1).
Meanwhile, over in Spain, Villarreal massively upset the odds to beat warm favourites Bayern Munich.
Unai Emery’s well-drilled side bagged the first and only goal of the game early, after just eight minutes, through in-form winger Arnaut Danjuma, and never looked back.
In fact, they almost made it two just before the break, but Francis Coquelin’s goal was later ruled out for offside by VAR.
Bayern dominated a lot of the play from thereon, but Villarreal held tight and go into the second leg in Germany with a real shot of making the semi-finals.
Villarreal have been cut dramatically into 33/1 (from 100/1) – while Bayern Munich are out slightly to 4/1 (from 10/3).
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