It As Chelsea and Real Madrid played out an exciting 1-1 draw in the first leg on Tuesday, Christian Pulisic became the first US Men’s National Team player to score in a Champions League semifinal.
After 14 minutes, the 22-year-old skipped past Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and fired the ball between two goal line defenders.
After dominating the early exchanges, Chelsea should have taken a commanding lead, but poor goalkeeping allowed Real to reclaim the lead.
Karim Benzema hit the post with a long-range warning shot before drawing the hosts level with a fantastic touch to control the ball on his head and then drill it into the roof of the net.
It was the Frenchman’s 71st goal in the Champions League, putting him alongside legendary Real striker Raul in fourth place all-time.
Benzema is just two goals behind third-placed Robert Lewandowski, who has been unable to add to his tally this season after Bayern Munich’s quarterfinal loss to Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel would undoubtedly believe that Tuesday night was a lost opportunity in Madrid. The second leg, which takes place next week, is tensely poised for the neutral, but Chelsea’s German coach would believe his team should be in the final.
Forward Timo Werner’s poor goal-scoring form continued, with the German hitting the ball straight at Courtois from just six yards out, averaging one goal per four games this season.
Real Madrid finally gained control of the game and went on to win it, with Toni Kroos’ deflected effort going just wide and Raphael Varane’s header hitting Ben Chilwell and flickering across the target.
Chelsea’s players will undoubtedly be cursing themselves, recognizing that Zinedine Zidane’s team is rarely caught off guard in the Champions League.
“We started the game very well, with a lot of courage and quality,” Tuchel told BT Sport after the match. “We deserved to win the first half, we had chances. Unfortunately, they scored from a set-piece and they had nothing else, we didn’t allow any changes.
“The goal was well deserved and we should have scored at least one more. We conceded more or less out of nothing and that can always happen against individual quality. It was a disappointing score at halftime. We had to stay calm and not lose confidence. The second half was very tactical, you could feel that we are a bit tired. We only had a few days to recover from another tough away game. We have to live with 1-1.”