Real Madrid and Chelsea drew 1-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, with Karim Benzema cancelling out Christian Pulisic’s early strike.
Pulisic gave the Blues a 14th-minute lead with an accomplished finish. But Benzema was on hand to smash home from just a few yards out to ensure it is all to play for in west London.
Chelsea began well and should have taken the lead on nine minutes. Mason Mount flew down the flank and found Pulisic with his cross.
The American opted to head back across goal but Timo Werner’s weak shot summed up his season for the Blues. In fairness Thibaut Courtois made a superb save with his feet but the German should have scored.
But Thomas Tuchel’s men continued to pour forward and were rewarded on 14 minutes. Antonio Rudiger took advantage of Real’s high line to release Pulisic.
The 22-year-old rounded Courtois and fired confidently past two defenders on the line. It was no more than the visitors deserved.
1 – Christian Pulisic is the first American player to score in a UEFA Champions League semi-final, while he's also the youngest Chelsea player to score in a semi-final match in the competition (22y 221d). Star. pic.twitter.com/dCBpxDicIW
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 27, 2021
Despite dominating, the Londoners were soon given a wake-up call. Benzema decided to go alone and smashed the post with a rasping shot on 24 minutes.
But just two minutes later it was Chelsea threatening to score again. N’Golo Kante surged forward and found Ben Chilwell but the England defender dragged his shot wide.
Los Blancos levelled the tie on 29 minutes. Marcelo received the ball from a corner and clipped it towards Eder Militao.
His header was flicked on by Casemiro and Benzema pounced from close range to thrash it past Edouard Mendy.
Thiago Silva tried his luck from distance as the first-half drew to a close but his effort flew wide.
Chelsea take sting out of tie
As the rain continued to fall at the Bernabeu, Werner wasted a decent early opportunity in the second-half while Benzema also shot wide.
Both sides seemed to take their feet off the gas early in the second period. It was more of a cagey affair than the hustle and bustle of the opening 45 minutes.
With nothing much happening, the managers opted to make changes. Former Chelsea favourite Eden Hazard entered the arena to replace Vinicius Junior.
He was a star at Stamford Bridge but has struggled in Spain. Tuchel responded by replacing Werner, Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta with Reece James, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech.
The away side continued to control the game in midfield, with the replacements playing a big role.
A slight let-up in the rain soon disappeared as the heavens opened once again. But it did not deter Chelsea, with Ziyech particularly prominent in midfield.
Toni Kroos’ corner was headed just wide right at the death. Rudiger was felled late on but, much to Tuchel’s delight, got gingerly to his feet.
But neither side could find a way through and seemed content to settle for a draw. Chelsea will be the happier of the sides after a solid outing in Madrid.