In picture above: Christian Pulisic (centre) skips past Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois before shooting to open the scoring for Chelsea. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA
The Premier League side had the better of the chances in Tuesday’s first leg, but Los Blancos fought back to level the tie
Zinedine Zidane said he was pleased with Real Madrid’s performance in their Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea.
Los Blancos fell behind early on thanks to a Christian Pulisic strike, but a spectacular equaliser from Karim Benzema levelled before half-time with what proved to be Real’s only shot on target.
Chelsea had the better opportunities to win the game but had to be satisfied with a draw, with the tie on a knife-edge going into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.
What did Zidane say?
“In the first half it was very difficult for us, but we controlled it more in the second half,” he told reporters.
“They’re very quick, have good players and started very well. In the second half we had more control. We’re still in the tie and we’re happy with the overall performance. We’re also good at playing away from home, we press high.
“They’re [Chelsea] in the semi-final for a reason, they’re a good side. The second leg will be very competitive. Militao had a great game, like all of them. They’ve given their all tonight and we’ll rest now.”
On goalscorer Benzema, who scored his 71st Champions League goal to move alongside Raul as the joint-fourth top scorer in the competition’s history, Zidane added: “Karim is impressive, I’m happy for him. I am not surprised by what he does.
“The important thing is the effort they made. The opponent is very good, you have to suffer. But I’m happy for everyone because we’re still alive and we have to go to London to try to win the game.”
Changes expected for the weekend
Zidane made three changes to the side from last weekend’s draw against Real Betis and the Frenchman admits he will continue to rotate his squad.
Real face Osasuna on Saturday in a crucial match in the Liga title race, with Los Blancos just two points behind Atletico Madrid with five games remaining.
“Managing the minutes is clear,” he said. “We have a game on Saturday and we have to be physically fit because it will be a difficult game.
“I am very proud of my players. We know the quality we have, that we can do good things.
“It is not easy, because when we play every three days it costs us, but we believe that we can win and that is what we are going to try to do in the second leg, because we are going to try to win.
“It is not easy to win a Champions League semi-final against a very good opponent.
“We suffer, but we are on the right track. We are not going to score three or four goals in every game.”
Zidane hopeful of Ramos return
Zidane also confirmed that he could have a number of injured players back for next week’s second leg, including captain Sergio Ramos.
“I hope he is with us. Sergio has not yet trained with the team,” he said. “We are waiting for him to return, hopefully he can be there as soon as possible, but not only him, all of them.
“Lucas [Vazquez], Ferland [Mendy], Fede [Valverde]. All the players. I want the players with me.” (GOAL)