BERLIN: Chelsea played to a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid to hold a small edge in their Champions League semi-final tie.
American forward Christian Pulisic gave the English visitors a 14th-minute lead but striker Karim Benzema levelled in the 29th for Real in the teams' first-ever Champions League meeting on a wet Tuesday night in Spain, DPA reports. Benzema now has 71 goals in the elite event for joint-fourth all-time with former Real legend Raul Gonzalez.
The return leg is next week in London at Stamford Bridge for a place in the Istanbul final on May 29. "It is just the first half, we knew against Real Madrid it would be tough," Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta told BT Sport.
"We started with courage, we had to perform at our best level. The semi-final of a Champions League asks you to play your best. We missed that little last pass where we could choose the best option."
The second first-leg semi-final between last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City is on Wednesday.
Germany forward Timo Werner should have put Chelsea ahead in the 10th but aimed right at goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from point-blank range after Pulisic headed a Mason Mount cross across goal. The Blues continued their lively start and broke the deadlock four minutes later. Antonio Ruediger chipped a long ball over the Real defence to Pulisic who rounded Courtois and smashed home from 10 metres.
Chelsea were in control but Real, still without captain Sergio Ramos, finally threatened in the 23rd from Benzema's drive which went wide right off the outside post. And still against the run of play, the French striker then volleyed the equalizer into the roof of the net six minutes later after nicely controlling Eder Militao's header into the goalmouth off a corner kick.
FA Cup finalists Chelsea could have completed one or two attacks a little better before caution prevailed after the break.
Eden Hazard returned from yet another injury layoff for Real against his former club in the 66th but made no difference against a Chelsea midfield marshalled by Man of the Match N'Golo Kante.
Mount had a shot from a promising position blocked and a deflected effort from Toni Kroos went wide left on the other end late in the game as Real Madrid finished with a mere two shots on target. "We played a strong first half, in the second we were tired and felt the last weeks," Tuchel told streaming portal DAZN. "The result is OK, now we want to win the return leg. It will be tough but we are confident." IANS
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