Pulisic’s strike gives Chelsea away-goal against Real Madrid


Madrid – April 28 (Online): Chelsea produced a composed performance to secure a fully deserved draw and a crucial away goal to put themselves in a promising position after their Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were superior on the night and might even regard themselves as unfortunate not to take an advantage into the return at Stamford Bridge in eight days’ time as they set their sights on a final date against either Manchester City or Paris St-Germain in Istanbul on 29 May.
Chelsea over-ran Madrid in the early stages and should have taken the lead when Timo Werner shot straight at keeper Thibaut Courtois from only six yards – but they were ahead after only 14 minutes when Christian Pulisic kept his cool to steer home a clever finish.
Real were on the ropes but danger man Karim Benzema, who had glanced the outside of an upright from long range, brought them back into the game with a brilliant equaliser, cushioning the ball with a header before sending an acrobatic volley beyond Edouard Mendy in the 29th minute.
Chelsea had the better of the second half but could not carve out the chance to score a potentially vital second. Manager Tuchel will still be very satisfied with both the performance and result.
Chelsea’s only regret as they left rain-soaked Madrid will be that they did not make their moments of superiority count even more after a performance of quality and discipline.
Werner was guilty of an awful miss in the opening moments, shooting straight at Courtois with the goal at his mercy, but Chelsea were soon celebrating the brilliance of Pulisic, who showed commendable calm to go around the keeper in a congested penalty before steering a shot between two Real Madrid defenders on the line.
Real Madrid, however, still present a serious threat and they may well be satisfied to have avoided defeat after a desperately slow start in which they could have conceded more than one goal and were grateful for that awful miss by Werner.
And in a side packed with experience and battle-hardened, streetwise operators who have been down this route before, there will be a steely determination that they can still navigate a way past Chelsea into the final.
Benzema, at 33, remains the consummate striker and will be the big danger to Chelsea’s aspirations of reaching their first final since they beat Bayern Munich in their own Allianz Arena in 2012.