Chelsea grabbed a potentially vital away goal in a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first-leg tie.
Real Madrid lined up with three at the back and two wing-backs. Vinicius partnered Karim Benzema up top.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel named the same side that beat West Ham United 1-0 on Saturday
The backdrop of Real’s training ground may not have screamed ‘Champions League semi-final’ but the quality on the pitch was up to the usual standard in the first half with Chelsea taking the lead after 13 minutes when Christian Pulisic rounded Thibaut Courtois to give Thomas Tuchel’s side the perfect start.
Pulisic came to the fore early in the first half with a wonderful individual effort in Madrid.
The USMNT international skipped around Thibaut Courtois to leave the former Chelsea goalkeeper flailing, but he still had some work to do with his path to goal blocked by several Madrid defenders.
But none of the white shirts in the Madrid box could do anything as Pulisic drilled his effort into the net, putting the visitors 1-0 up in the first leg.
The crucial away goal saw Chelsea not only take the lead on the scoreboard but also earn all of the momentum against a puzzled Real that struggled to deal with the pressure of the visitors.
Los Blancos needed something to change the swing of things, but breaking down the Blues’ brilliant backline was proving tricky.
Benzema slapped the post with a fierce drive from distance and it acted like smelling salt to Madrid, who suddenly remembered they are record 13-time Champions League winners and that they live for this tournament, no matter the actions of their president.
The No.9 levelled with a brilliantly taken goal, controlling on his head in the box and then keeping his balance to emphatically volley the ball past Mendy.
It was Benzema’s sixth goal in this season’s Champions League – the most he has netted in a single campaign since 2014-15, and his 71st strike overall.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have now scored more goals in this tournament.
After Benzema’s wake-up call, it was a tighter, more even game, even though Madrid failed to trouble Mendy in the second half.
They stemmed the bleeding and stopped letting Pulisic and Werner’s pace pick them open.
The game slipped into a more docile tempo after the break with both teams seemingly happy with their lot.
Former Chelsea star Eden Hazard was introduced with 25 minutes left but he had no impact on the game as Chelsea looked in control in typically assured fashion under Tuchel.
It was an encouraging scoreline for Thomas Tuchel’s men, who will enjoy the advantage of an away goal for the return leg at Stamford Bridge.
The pair will meet again next Wednesday (May 5) at Stamford Bridge to decide who reaches the final in Istanbul on May 29.
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