Thibaut Courtois saved Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy after his mistake gave Real Madrid a two-goal lead in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Chelsea bounced back after Karim Benzema’s sensational brace sent Real Madrid 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge, with Kai Havertz responding just before half-time.
But the Blues’ hard work was undone almost immediately after the break, with a pass from Mendy to Antonio Rudiger inviting Benzema to challenge Benzema, who then managed to strike into an open goal to complete his hat-trick.
It was Mendy’s first mistake that led to a Champions League goal and only his third in all competitions in two seasons since joining Chelsea.
Despite Chelsea’s 57.3% possession and 20 shots against Real Madrid’s eight, the home side were unable to counterattack again and now face an extremely difficult task in the return match in Spain.
Mendy at least had the sympathy of former Chelsea player Courtois, his opponent in the Real Madrid goal.
“The problem if you make a bad pass as a goalkeeper is that there’s no one behind, they steal the ball and score,” Courtois said.
“He shouldn’t be blamed, but a goalkeeper’s mistake gets a lot of talk.”
Up to 37.5% of the game was played in Real Madrid’s third of the pitch, but Chelsea created chances worth just 1.35 expected goals, even though Courtois was more comfortable with them. visitors playing more on the pitch.
“We defended well,” he said. “Maybe at times we were too deep and they took advantage of that to create chances. We need to improve that and move the defensive line a bit higher.
“We have to make sure we play well in the second leg.”
Courtois is expected to find a more sympathetic home crowd in the second leg, having been booed by Chelsea fans on Wednesday in his first game at Stamford Bridge in front of the fans.
The Belgian keeper left Chelsea for Real Madrid in a €35million move in 2018.
“Obviously it’s a Champions League game, it’s not a friendly game,” he said of the response.
“I didn’t like the way my departure from the club was explained, but I think I had a great time at Stamford Bridge and have fond memories of my time at Chelsea.”