Chelsea earned a 1 – 1 draw away in Spain and return to London with a slight advantage via away goal rules. Christian Pulisic’s 14th-minute goal was cancelled by Karem Benzema before the half hour mark in the first half.
Thomas Tuchel’s side played out a 1 – 1 stalemate against the most successful team in Europe’s elite football competition. Zinedine Zidane’s side blew apart Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at the Alfredo Di Stefano before holding their nerves against the Reds at Anfield to seal passage into the last four.
Chelsea had high flying Portuguese side, FC Porto, to contend with, and booked their place in the last four after beating the Dragons 2 – 0 in the first leg before falling to them 1 – 0 in the reverse. That set up the fiercest of battles between the two sides who were unsurprisingly both named as founding members of the now-defunct European Super League. The match was to give a taste of what fans were to witness on regular basis had the Super League been pushed through to reality.
The English side started the day brightly and held their nerves against the Champions League specialist, limiting their opponents chances in vital areas. And their early pressure started yielding positive impression when Timo Werner connected to Pulisic’s headed pass and sent a half-volley which should have been at the back of the net if the German had some luck on his side. He however saw his shot saved by former Chelsea star, Thibaut Courtois.
Pulisic then showed quick feet and composure to open the scoring in the 14th minute after rounding Courtois and putting the ball through the legs of two Madrid retreating defenders. Antonio Rudiger sent the ball over the top for the American to chase and he did it perfectly well to give his side the lead.
Karem Benzema then scored to level matters and help his side avoid a first leg heartbreak. As with the Chelsea goal, Benzema’s own too was made by a defender as Eder Militao rose highest to flick Casemiro’s header for a calm Benzema who drove a shot with power past Mendy. It was the Frenchman’s 71st Champions League goal and that now places him joint 4th highest scorer (along with Raúl) in the coemption’s history. Only Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have scored more.
Neither side could muster a second goal in the evening to win the tie despite both sides making strong substitutions from the bench. Eden Hazard who built a solid reputation for himself at Stamford Bridge before heading to Madrid two seasons ago came on to face his former side for the first time since departing. He however could not make any meaningful impact.
Chelsea goes back to London with an away goal that could prove to be the difference when the two sides square off in London on May 5. For now, Tuchel will lead his side out at Stamford Bridge on Saturday against Fulham with the hope of cementing their position in the chase for European football next season. Zidane’s side will however hope to make amends after dropping two valuable points against Real Betis last time out. Anything aside a win could mean their hope of defending their La Liga title will be over barring any favourable results in the Barcelona and Atletico Madrid’s games.