Karim Benzema got here to Real Madrid’s rescue once more on Tuesday, his acrobatic volley incomes them a 1-1 draw in opposition to a formidable Chelsea facet within the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. Christian Pulisic grabbed Chelsea a deserved away aim in a soaking moist contest at Valdebebas however they may remorse not pulling away, with the struggling Timo Werner once more lacking a golden likelihood. It means Madrid shall be glad too, after recovering from a chastening opening half an hour earlier than Benzema’s brilliance left the tie within the stability.
Eden Hazard was given 24 minutes off the bench in opposition to his former membership however regardless of some twinkling touches, he was unable so as to add a late twist. “It’s always good to play against friends,” Hazard advised BT Sport afterwards.
By the time the Belgian entered the competition, it was drifting, the early adrenaline misplaced, with each groups seemingly content material to defer to the return leg at Stamford Bridge subsequent Wednesday.
Benzema’s aim was his 71st within the Champions League, making him the joint-fourth high scorer within the competitors’s historical past with Raul, behind solely Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.
When Real Madrid had been struggling, and within the absence of the injured Sergio Ramos, Benzema was the one dragging his workforce again into this match, at occasions by means of sheer drive of will.
With Werner clearly in need of confidence, the Frenchman’s precision on the different finish might but show the distinction.
“We should have won the first half,” stated Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel. “We should have scored at least one more.”
“The result is fair,” stated Zinedine Zidane. “Our first half wasn’t the best, their pressure caused us difficulties but we adapted and in the second half we were better.”
These two groups had been each among the many Super League’s ‘Dirty Dozen’, with Madrid president Florentino Perez, the face and voice of the breakaway challenge, watching on on the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.
Despite stirring scenes of protests outdoors Premier League stadiums final weekend, Real Madrid’s – admittedly distant – coaching floor was untouched by any signal of discontent with the membership.
And there was no Real Madrid revolt in opposition to UEFA both, with the Champions League anthem ringing out as regular and the stadium announcer loyally declaring: “The UEFA Champions League brings together the best teams in Europe.”
Chelsea had been electrical within the first half an hour, their passing slicker and their motion faster than Madrid, who had been unable to maintain up.
– Werner misses sitter –
Werner ought to have scored when Mason Mount’s deflected, looping shot was headed throughout aim by Pulisic however he missed from six yards, his volley blocked by the best leg of Thibaut Courtois.
But Chelsea’s dominance was such that one other likelihood by no means felt distant, within the 14th minute Pulisic taking benefit.
Antonio Rudiger was given time to drift a pleasant ball excessive for the darting American, whose first contact took him left however he recovered his poise, nipping previous Courtois and firing between Marcelo and Raphael Varane on the road.
Chelsea had been rampant however because the rain started to pour, Madrid discovered a approach again. Benzema led the resistance, one shot from distance shaving the put up earlier than one other from shut drew Madrid stage.
A brief nook labored its approach to Marcelo on the sting of the world and his cross was headed again in by way of Casemiro and Eder Militao. Benzema, together with his again to aim and surrounded by blue shirts, tamed the ball together with his brow earlier than throwing his physique into the air and volleying in earlier than his markers might react.
Marcelo and Jorginho had been each responsible of sloppy passes early within the second half however neither Werner nor Benzema might capitalise.
And for 20 minutes the sport drifted, each side nervous of opening up. Four substitutes got here on simply after the hour, Hazard and Kai Havertz amongst them. Hazard was making his third look in three months.
But Benzema’s shot was blocked, Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick curled into the fingers of Courtois and a late Madrid cross flashed previous the far put up. A draw was a good consequence.
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