A moment of brilliance from Karim Benzema – still one of the most underrated players in the game – kept Real Madrid in this Champions League semi-final. Benzema’s goal, a cobra-like strike into the roof of the net, was pretty much the only dangerous thing Real did all evening. Come the end, Zinedine Zidane looked happier with a draw.
Chelsea bossed much of this first leg in the teeming rain, using their energetic press to restrict Real danger men Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to sideways or backwards passes. Eden Hazard came on for a second-half cameo against his old club, but did absolutely nothing. Only Benzema threatened.
The Blues were particularly sharp in the opening 30 minutes, and deservedly took the lead when Christian Pulisic evaded Thibault Courtois and calmly blasted the ball into the net. But wasteful finishing from Timo Werner, who had a shocking game all-round, prevented the visitors from adding to their tally, and then Benzema hit back.
1 – Real Madrid registered just one shot on target versus Chelsea; since 2003-04, only versus Paris Saint-Germain (0) in September 2019 have they had fewer in a UEFA Champions League game. Neutralised. #UCL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 27, 2021
It baffles me how Real made it this far, honestly. I’ve watched quite a few of their Champions League games this season, and they are an average team who have competed at times purely from muscle memory. Still, you have to admire their resilience and pride.
Although I expect Chelsea to go through to the final, Real are still in with a puncher’s chance in this tie – especially as King Shithouse Sergio Ramos will possibly return for next week’s second leg.
Man of the match: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
NOT the man of the match: Timo Werner (Chelsea)