A hat-trick for Karim Benzema inspired his side to a 3-1 victory on a wet and windy night in west London, putting the Spanish side firmly in control heading into the second leg.
It was a match that promised to be very different once the draw was done.
There was uncertainty over whether any fans would be able to attend the game and restrictions on travel budgets cast doubt on Chelsea’s ability to participate in the Champions League.
But, after further clarification and working with the UK government, it was easy to overlook the off-field issues as a full capacity Stamford Bridge cheered on his side.
On the pitch, it was Chelsea who started better, teeming with Madrid players who were slow to settle in – but they did.
The visitors worked a brilliant chance for Vinicius Jr. who broke the crossbar with his first effort and Chelsea ignored the early warning.
Thomas Tuchel’s side quickly found themselves within two goals after Benzema planted two precise headers past Edouard Mendy in a chaotic three-minute period.
The goals were met with frenzied away celebrations with many Madrid fans at the mercy of the stormy conditions.
With the semi-finals looking like a distant dream for Chelsea, the home support started to get frustrated, but there was one more twist to come in a frenetic first half.
Kai Havertz cut the deficit in half with his own header, latching on to a beautifully crafted cross from Jorginho.
But before much had taken place after the restart, Benzema was on target again, this time taking advantage of sloppy play from goalkeeper Mendy.
His pass to Antonio Rudiger was poor and the defender couldn’t do anything to stop Benzema stealing the ball and going into an open net.
It was a second consecutive hat-trick for the Frenchman in this competition, following his exploits in the Round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain.
Although Chelsea had more tries and plenty of the ball in the second half, it was the Madrid fans who danced as the home fans grew increasingly restless.
There was enough to suggest that Chelsea had a chance, albeit slim, in the second leg, but who knows what the club will look like by then.
A number of potential owners have expressed an interest in taking over management of the club, but there is no decision yet on Chelsea’s next step from here.
Abramovich himself acted as a go-between between Russia and Ukraine, shuttling between Moscow, kyiv, Istanbul, Warsaw and beyond amid a whirlwind of talks aimed at ending the conflict, his gate confirmed. speak earlier this year.
All this as the brutal realities of war have begun to emerge across Ukraine as Russian forces withdraw from the Kyiv region and focus on the east of the country.