Thibaut Courtois defended Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy after his error gave Real Madrid a two-goal lead in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie.
Chelsea rallied after Karim Benzema twice beat Madrid 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Kai Havertz responding just before half-time.
But the Blues’ hard work was put on hold after a while, as Mendy passed slightly to Antonio Rudiger and invited a challenge from Benzema, who managed to blow an open goal to complete his hat-trick.
It was Mendy’s first mistake leading to a goal in the Champions League and it was his only third mistake in all competitions in the two seasons since joining Chelsea.
Despite Chelsea having 57.3 percent of the ball and 20 shortstops in eight of Madrid, the home side have not been able to beat again and now faces a huge task of climbing to the second leg in Spain.
Mendy was at least sympathetic to former Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois, whose number was at odds with Madrid.
The problem if you pass poorly as a goalkeeper is that he is not back, they steal the ball and score a goal, ”said Courtois.
“He should not be blamed, but the goalkeeper’s mistake is often talked about.
About 37.5 percent of the match was played in Madrid’s third place, but Chelsea created the 1.35 goal chances expected, even though Courtois would have been more comfortable with the top-flight visitors.
“Protect us well,” he said. “Maybe sometimes we were too deep and they were using that to create opportunities. We have to improve on that and raise the line of defense at the top.
“We have to make sure we play well in the return leg.”
Courtois should find the crowd more supportive on that return leg, as Chelsea fans were ridiculed on Wednesday in his first game at Stamford Bridge in front of fans.
The Belgian goalkeeper left Chelsea for Madrid for 35 million euros in 2018.
“Obviously it’s a Champions League game, not a friendly match,” he said in response.
“I did not like the way it was described when I left the club, but I think I had some wonderful times at Stamford Bridge and I have some very good memories of my time at Chelsea.”