Karim Benzema’s 71st UEFA Champions League goal cancelled out Christian Pulišić’s opener to leave the tie neatly poised.
Match in brief
Chelsea were a constant menace early on and Thibaut Courtois had already denied Timo Werner from point-blank range before Christian Pulišić darted in behind the Madrid defence and rounded the goalkeeper to open the scoring in the 14th minute.
Madrid were awoken though and Karim Benzema led the fightback, clipping the post from 20 metres then hauling his side level with a thumping volley following Éder Militão’s flick-on.
Both sides were more wary after the interval with Zinédine Zidane’s men noticeably more diligent defensively. Substitute Hakim Ziyech tested Courtois from a free-kick and Toni Kroos’ skidding effort fizzed just wide but a third goal in the game rarely looked like materialising.
Player of the Match: N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea)
“His work in attack and defence was spectacular. He gave balance to the team. He recovered balls in all areas and made great passes between the lines to enable quick transitions. A great game.”
Ginés Carvajal, UEFA Technical Observer
Joe Walker, Real Madrid reporter
All said and done a decent result for Madrid, especially given the start they made, looking second best for long periods. Benzema’s stunner clawed them back into a game they had no right to still be in, and from there they grew in confidence. Of course, they need to score in London next week, but given what could have been, they probably would have taken a 1-1 draw.
Jon Phipps, Chelsea reporter
Chelsea just seem to get more and more impressive under Tuchel, and this was yet more proof of what a side they are becoming. Save for failing to deal with a corner which allowed Benzema to score, this was almost the perfect night for Chelsea, who were a threat going forwards and solid at the back. The excellent away goal from Pulišić means they have an advantage to bring home to London and it’s all set up for a cracking second leg.
• This was Real Madrid’s 450th game in European Cup/UEFA Champions League history.
• Pulišić is now the outright highest scoring American in UEFA Champions League history (five goals) and the first to strike in a semi-final.
• Benzema scored his 71st UEFA Champions League goal, moving him level with Raúl González in fourth place on the all-time top scorers list.
• Benzema (33 years, 129 days) became the oldest scorer for Madrid in a UEFA Champions League semi-final, taking the record from Cristiano Ronaldo (32 years, 86 days).
• Madrid have kept just two clean sheets in their last 13 UEFA Champions League home games.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Éder Militão, Varane, Nacho; Carvajal (Odriozola 77), Casemiro, Kroos, Modrić, Marcelo (Asensio 77); Benzema (Rodrygo 90), Vinícius Júnior (Hazard 66)
Chelsea: Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger; Azpilicueta (James 66), Jorginho, Kanté, Chilwell; Pulišić (Ziyech 66), Mount, Werner (Havertz 66)
Madrid have Osasuna at home in the Liga at the weekend, while Chelsea are at home against west London neighbours Fulham. This tie concludes on Wednesday 5 May, with the winners taking on Paris or Man. City in the final in Istanbul on 29 May.