Christian Pulisic scored for Chelsea as they earned a creditable 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in their Champions League semifinal first-leg on Tuesday, but the Premier League side might feel they could have come away with more.
Thomas Tuchel, who named an unchanged team for the first time since he was appointed in January, saw his side make a lively start to the game with Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell going close either side of Pulisic’s 14th-minute goal.
Pulisic headed back across goal to leave Werner with a chance from close range, but the Germany international saw his effort saved well by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea took a deserved lead soon after, a measured ball over the top from Antonio Rudiger found Pulisic, who had made an excellent run in behind the Madrid defence. The United States men’s international controlled the ball and rounded Courtois before slotting home.
They continued to pile forward, with N’Golo Kante breaking down the right and having his pick of teammates to pass to on the left side of the penalty area before Chilwell shot wide on 24 minutes.
The hosts fought back against the run of play to equalise through an acrobatic effort from Karim Benzema on 29 minutes. The Frenchman controlling the ball with his chest before swivelling to shoot a wonderful effort into the net leaving Chelsea stunned.
A flat second half in the Madrid rain didn’t live up to the excitement of the first, with both managers opting to freshen up their options on the pitch just after the hour in an attempt to kick the game back into life.
Pulisic was withdrawn as Chelsea introduced Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Reece James, while Madrid substituted on Eden Hazard.
Madrid rallied late with Toni Kroos drawing a save from Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal before Raphael Varane put a header wide from the subsequent corner.
That leaves things finely balanced ahead of the return leg in London next Wednesday.