Real Madrid have won the first leg of the quarterfinals to the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea F.C. thanks to a hat trick by Karim Benzema. In his mid-30s, which is not young for a world-class footballer, Benzema went on an age-defying goal spree, proving himself to be still a world-class striker. Having won the biggest number of UEFA Champions League titles in history (13 times), Real Madrid have never defeated Chelsea, recording two draws and three losses against the English club since they first met in 1971.
In the first game of the quarterfinals to the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League (UCL), Karim Benzema led his team to a comfortable 3-1 victory, pulling off three goals on his own against Chelsea F.C. This makes the French striker the oldest footballer to have scored a hat trick in the history of UCL; it also marked Benzema’s second consecutive hat trick following the three goals he netted against Paris Saint-Germain last month. Benzema has also become the fourth player to record hat tricks in two games in a row in the UCL, following Luiz Adriano (Shakhtar Donetsk in 2014), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona in 2016), and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid in 2017).
Benzema found the net three times out of his four shots on target. In the 21st and the 24th minutes of the first half, the French scored two beautiful headers with precision. And in the first minute of the second half, he intercepted from a fumbling goalie to seal his second hat trick with an easy shot into an unmanned goal. This season, Benzema has found a total 11 goals in the UCL, ranked as second top-scorers along with Sebastien Haller from AFC Ajax, with Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich leading the competition with 12 goals.
Thanks to his superb goals, Benzema became the Player of the Match. After the game, Carlo Ancelotti, the manager of Real Madrid, praised the French forward, saying “He is getting better with age like wine.” In the 40th minute of the first half when the game was at 0-2, Kai Havertz found the net for his team and the defending champions Chelsea, but there was no reversing it.
This season, Benzema is boasting a supreme form in LaLiga as well. He has scored a total 24 goals this season in the Spanish league, widening the gap with the runner-up scorer by a whopping 10 goals. The French has also made 11 assists this season, currently on the top of the table. Benzema has scored 20 or more goals for four consecutive seasons including this season. This season, he netted a total 37 goals in the Spanish league and national games, a record since his professional debut in 2005.
Bayern Munich, currently No. 1 of the UEFA Club rankings this season, was caught off-guard by Villarreal F.C. in the first game of the quarterfinals. Ranked in the 20th of the UFFA rankings, Villarreal surprised the spectators by defeating the “giants of the Bundesliga” 1-0, by keeping the opener and the decider found by Arnaut Danjuma in the 8th minute of the first half.
Dong-Wook Kim email@example.com