Eden Hazard was given 24 minutes off the bench in opposition to his former membership however regardless of some twinkling touches, he was unable to add a late twist
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 aspect in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
Christian Pulisic grabbed Chelsea an away aim in a soaking moist contest at Valdebebas however Madrid can be glad too, after recovering from a chastening opening half an hour earlier than Benzema’s brilliance left the tie in the balance.
Eden Hazard was given 24 minutes off the bench in opposition to his former membership however regardless of some twinkling touches, he was unable to add a late twist.
By the time the Belgian entered the contest, 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 in the Champions League, making him the joint-fourth prime scorer in the competitors’s historical past with Raul, behind solely Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.
When Real Madrid have been struggling, and in the absence of Sergio Ramos, who was shouting from the stands, Benzema was the one dragging his workforce back into this match, at occasions via sheer pressure of will.
With Chelsea’s Timo Werner nonetheless struggling for confidence, and lacking good probabilities once more right here, the Frenchman’s precision at the different finish may but show the distinction.
These two groups have been each amongst the Super League’s ‘Dirty Dozen’, with Madrid president Florentino Perez, the face and voice of the breakaway undertaking, watching on at 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 have been electrical in the first half an hour, their passing slicker and their motion faster than Madrid, who have been unable to sustain.
– Werner misses sitter –
Werner ought to have scored when Mason Mount’s clipped ball to the back submit was headed throughout by Pulisic however he missed from six yards, his volley blocked by the proper leg of Thibaut Courtois.
But Chelsea’s dominance was such that one other likelihood by no means felt far-off, in the 14th minute Pulisic taking benefit.
Antonio Rudiger was given time to float a pleasant ball over the prime 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 line.
Chelsea have been rampant however as the rain started to pour, Madrid discovered a means back. Benzema led the resistance, one shot from distance shaving the submit earlier than one other from shut drew Madrid degree.
A brief nook labored its means to Marcelo on the fringe of the space and his cross was headed back in through Casemiro and Eder Militao. Benzema, along with his back to aim and surrounded by blue shirts, tamed the ball along with his brow earlier than throwing his physique into the air and volleying in earlier than his markers may react.
Marcelo and Jorginho have been each responsible of sloppy passes early in the second half however neither Werner nor Benzema may 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 submit. A draw was a good outcome.
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