Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta rued missed chances in the first leg of their 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw against Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel’s men dominated the opening exchanges at Valdebebas, with Christian Pulisic’s splendidly taken goal giving them a 14th-minute lead.
But the Premier League side arguably let the 13-time European champions off the hook, with Timo Werner once again the chief culprit when it came to being wasteful in front of goal.
Karim Benzema gave the Germany international and his Chelsea team-mates a lesson in clinical finishing when he swivelled to volley a stunning equaliser against the run of play before the half hour. That remained Madrid’s only attempt on target over the course of the 90 minutes.
“I think we started really well in the first 20 or 25 minutes. We got the goal and could have got more goals,” Azpilicueta told BT Sport.
“They came back from a set play. After that, some moments we controlled and others we suffered.
“It is just the first half, we knew against Real Madrid it would be tough.
“We started with courage, we had to perform at our best level. The semi-final of a Champions League asks you to play your best. We missed that little last pass where we could choose the best option.
“I think in the overall analysis we performed well.”
Pulisic was electrifying during the opening exchanges and Azpilicueta marvelled at the 22-year-old’s coolness under pressure after he rounded Thibaut Courtois and lined up an unerring finish as Madrid defenders scampered back towards their own goal line.
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“It was a great finish, great composure. When he was in front of the goal he took the best decision,” he added.
“With and without the ball he makes difficult runs to defend.
“He is a young player, growing and improving. I’m very pleased with his goal. He is a very important player for the team.”
Although Benzema’s athleticism and clever movement caught the eye, Azpilicueta was frustrated to see Casemiro and Eder Militao win headers in the Chelsea box to make the equaliser possible.
“It was a set play, they win two headers in the box,” he lamented.
“He scored a great goal, he is a very good striker.
“He dropped, he got the ball for the goal. We have to be aware. Wednesday is a decisive game and we have to be ready for it.”
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