Chelsea produced a composed performance to secure a fully deserved draw and a crucial away goal to put themselves in a promising position after their Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were superior on the night and might even regard themselves as unfortunate not to take an advantage into the return at Stamford Bridge in eight days’ time as they set their sights on a final date against either Manchester City or Paris St-Germain in Istanbul on 29 May.
Chelsea over-ran Madrid in the early stages and should have taken the lead when Timo Werner shot straight at keeper Thibaut Courtois from only six yards – but they were ahead after only 14 minutes when Christian Pulisic kept his cool to steer home a clever finish.
Real were on the ropes but danger man Karim Benzema, who had glanced the outside of an upright from long range, brought them back into the game with a brilliant equaliser, cushioning the ball with a header before sending an acrobatic volley beyond Edouard Mendy in the 29th minute.
Chelsea had the better of the second half but could not carve out the chance to score a potentially vital second. Manager Tuchel will still be very satisfied with both the performance and result.
Chelsea’s only regret as they left rain-soaked Madrid will be that they did not make their moments of superiority count even more after a performance of quality and discipline.
Werner was guilty of an awful miss in the opening moments, shooting straight at Courtois with the goal at his mercy, but Chelsea were soon celebrating the brilliance of Pulisic, who showed commendable calm to go around the keeper in a congested penalty before steering a shot between two Real Madrid defenders on the line.
Chelsea had a brief spell of anxiety around the time when Benzema equalised but they were rarely troubled until the dying seconds when Raphael Varane steered a header wide.
Tuchel will be happy but he knows this tie is far from over and much work remains to be done against this dangerous Madrid side, who have already proved their enduring ability to get the job done in the Champions League by eliminating Liverpool.
Chelsea have the edge because of that away goal but Real are masters of these situations and will still travel to Stamford Bridge with confidence for the second leg.
Never write off Real Madrid
Chelsea will rightly regard themselves as having a very slight advantage after not only avoiding defeat but also taking an away goal back to Stamford Bridge for the second leg.
Real Madrid, however, still present a serious threat and they may well be satisfied to have avoided defeat after a desperately slow start in which they could have conceded more than one goal and were grateful for that awful miss by Werner.
And in a side packed with experience and battle-hardened, streetwise operators who have been down this route before, there will be a steely determination that they can still navigate a way past Chelsea into the final.
Benzema, at 33, remains the consummate striker and will be the big danger to Chelsea’s aspirations of reaching their first final since they beat Bayern Munich in their own Allianz Arena in 2012.
The French striker was Real’s best performer, so has been so often under-rated and in the shadow of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. The brilliant strike that pegged Chelsea back was his 71st goal in the Champions League, making him joint-fourth highest scorer in the competition, level with another Real legend Raul and only behind Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.
Benzema’s class is permanent and he will be a huge threat in the return game at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel maintains unbeaten run – the stats
- Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has faced Real Madrid more often without losing in the Champions League than against any other opponent (W1 D4) – in the competition’s history, he is the only manager to face Los Blancos as many as five times without ever losing.
- Chelsea have failed to win any of their eight Champions League semi-final matches played away from home (D5 L3), drawing each of the last five in a row.
- Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing in all four matches (D2 L2).
- Real Madrid registered just one shot on target versus Chelsea – only versus Paris St-Germain (0) in September 2019 have they had fewer in a Champions League game since 2003-04.
- Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scored his 71st goal in the Champions League, making him the joint-fourth top scorer in the competition’s history (along with Raúl). Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have now scored more than the Frenchman.
- Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic became the first American player to score in a Champions League semi-final, and one of only four Americans overall to score in the knockout stages of the competition.
- Christian Pulisic became the youngest Chelsea player to score in a semi-final match in Champions League history (22 years and 221 days).
- Chelsea defender Thiago Silva (36 years and 217 days) became the oldest outfield player to start in a Champions League semi-final since April 2011, when Ryan Giggs (37 years and 148 days) started for Manchester United against Schalke.
- 5VaraneBooked at 78mins
- 2CarvajalSubstituted forOdriozolaat 77′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 8KroosBooked at 60mins
- 12MarceloBooked at 65minsSubstituted forAsensioat 77′minutes
- 9BenzemaSubstituted forRodrygoat 90+2′minutes
- 20Vinícius JúniorBooked at 27minsSubstituted forE Hazardat 66′minutes
- 7E Hazard
- 6Thiago Silva
- 28AzpilicuetaSubstituted forJamesat 67′minutes
- 10PulisicBooked at 38minsSubstituted forZiyechat 66′minutes
- 11WernerSubstituted forHavertzat 66′minutes
Match ends, Real Madrid 1, Chelsea 1.
Second Half ends, Real Madrid 1, Chelsea 1.
Rodrygo (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).
Substitution, Real Madrid. Rodrygo replaces Karim Benzema.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).
Álvaro Odriozola (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Álvaro Odriozola (Real Madrid).
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Ben Chilwell.
Attempt missed. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Toni Kroos with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by N’Golo Kanté.
Attempt blocked. Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Luka Modric.
Offside, Real Madrid. Nacho tries a through ball, but Marco Asensio is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Kai Havertz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).
Substitution, Real Madrid. Marco Asensio replaces Marcelo.