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Three things we learned from Real Madrid - Chelsea

Real Madrid - Chelsea

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid and Christian Pulisic of FC Chelsea battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on April 27, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s first leg mission accomplished if Thomas Tuchel’s goal for Chelsea in its UEFA Champions League semifinal at Real Madrid was an away advantage.

Christian Pulisic’s first-half goal delivered a lead for the Blues and Karim Benzema had the only answer in a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch -- USMNT star scores ]

Chelsea and Real Madrid will stage the second leg at Stamford Bridge in London on May 5.

The Blues host Fulham on Saturday, while Real Madrid will entertain Osasuna on the same day.

Chelsea had a slight advantage in possession and took three of the match’s four shots on target, as Real scored with its only effort on frame.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Three things we learned from Real Madrid - Chelsea

1. Tuchel continues to foil Real Madrid: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has frustrated Zinedine Zidane with three clubs over five matches, winning one and drawing four against Real Madrid. Zidane tried to trip up Tuchel with a three center mids atop three center backs, but Pulisic and the Blues cut them apart in space and Werner might’ve had at least two first-half goals on another day. Aside from a 3-0 PSG win over Real, Tuchel’s now overseen a pair of 2-2 draws between Borussia Dortmund and Madrid, another 2-2 as PSG boss, and this 1-1 first leg.

2. Benzema’s class is ageless: What a trap and finish from 33-year-old French forward Karim Benzema, who has 28 goals and seven assists in 40 matches this season. Benzema will likely enter Real’s top ten for appearances by the end of the season (His 553 are six shy of Michel), and he’s 13 behind No. 4 goal scorer Santillana on the Real list. His buzzing about deep in his own third during stoppage time says a lot about the striker’s on-field commitment.

3. Center forward still the challenge for Chelsea: Timo Werner remains a hardworker but he is yet to find a real run of goal-scoring form. He should’ve had it 1-0 after mere moments of this match, and it’s stunning that he failed to find a marker on the day.

Man of the Match: Antonio Rudiger

Imagine seeing this guy as superfluous. Rudiger had an assist and passed at 92 percent in helping Chelsea control the game out of the back. German national teammate Toni Kroos was very good for Madrid.

Real Madrid - Chelsea recap

The first mistake of the game was Chelsea’s as N’Golo Kante gave away the ball near his 18 but the Blues stood tall around the error.

Christian Pulisic had an assist taken away from him by ex-Chelsea man Thibaut Courtois, who made a terrific leg save on Timo Werner after Pulisic headed a deflected ball into a very xG place for his German center forward.

But the American is the one who made it 1-0 when Raphael Varane was unaware of Pulisic racing behind him to a looped Antonio Rudiger lid-opener. Pulisic’s fifth UCL goal saw him patiently touch around Courtois before blasting the ball off Varane’s arm and into the goal.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

But Real tied the match against the run of play when Eder Miltao flicked a cross into the path of Benzema, who took the ball off his chest and lashed through traffic to beat Edouard Mendy.

Toni Kroos had the next chance, curling a shot wide of the post from 21 yards.

The second half was slow and tight, with Thomas Tuchel making three subs between the 66th and 67th minutes to shake things up, taking off Pulisic, Werner, and Cesar Azpilicueta in favor of Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, and Reece James.

Follow @NicholasMendola