Champions League: Chelsea, Real Madrid Play Out 1-1 Draw In First Leg Semi-Final
Karim Benzema came to Real Madrid’s rescue on Tuesday as his acrobatic volley earned them a 1-1 draw against an impressive Chelsea side in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
Christian Pulisic grabbed Chelsea an away goal in a soaking wet contest at Valdebebas but Madrid will be satisfied too, after recovering from a chastening opening half an hour before Benzema’s brilliance left the tie in the balance.
Real were on the ropes but danger man 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.
Eden Hazard was given 24 minutes off the bench against his former club but despite some twinkling touches, he was unable to add a late twist.
By the time the Belgian entered the contest, it was drifting, the early adrenaline lost, with both teams seemingly content to defer to the return leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday.
Benzema’s goal was his 71st in the Champions League, making him the joint-fourth top scorer in the competition’s history with Raul, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.