Top Winners, Losers After Tuesday's Champions League Semifinal Leg 1 Results

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

Chelsea players celebrate after Christian Pulisic scored the opening goal during the Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

The Champions League semifinals kicked off on Tuesday, with Chelsea and Real Madrid playing to a 1-1 draw behind goals from Christian Pulisic and Karim Benzema.

Below, we'll break down the winners and losers from the first leg. 


Winner: Christian Pulisic

The United States' footballing hero scored the crucial away goal for Chelsea, in a remarkable display of skill and composure to put the Blues ahead:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports


Pulisic's time at Chelsea, and under Tuchel, has been an up-and-down affair. He's shown scintillating brilliance but has struggled with injuries, often starting games on the bench under Tuchel. 

But not on Tuesday. He was in the starting 11 and more than earned his place, proving why supporters of the United States men's national team continue to be excited about the future of the squad. 

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Christian Pulisic: Raw # for Chelsea in 1-1 away draw vs. Real Madrid 66 minutes 54 touches 1 shot 1 goal (!) 25/28 passing 2/3 accurate crosses 0 long ball attempts 13/19 duels won (!) 5/7 dribbles (!) 6x fouled (!) 1 foul 1/2 tackles 0/2 aerials #USMNT - Big time

Matt Law @Matt_Law_DT

Thought Pulisic was excellent tonight but was probably pretty knackered by the time he went off

There's little doubt that the 22-year-old has enormous potential and a bright future. Turns out he's pretty darn good in the present, too. 


Loser: Timo Werner

Chelsea was this close to having a very early lead over Real Madrid: 

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

TIMO...DENIED BY COURTOIS ❌ https://t.co/wi7oBYjGIQ

That's one you have to bury, especially for the €53 million man who was expected to lead the line with aplomb for Chelsea. His debut season hasn't exactly gone to plan, however. 

Squawka Football @Squawka

No Premier League player has missed more Big Chances in league and European competition this season than Timo Werner: ◎ 29 Big Chances ◉ 21 missed ◎ 8 scored Another huge chance tonight. #UCL https://t.co/ovzyM1kFdZ

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Felt like Chelsea’s only weakness was Werner’s lack of confidence. So obviously a very good player but not quite trusting himself

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

watching Werner has become harrowing. A man floundering, bereft of confidence, humiliated with the world watching

Ultimately, his inability to convert that golden chance didn't hurt Chelsea too badly. Presented with the same chance in the return leg, though, and you can bet Werner won't want a reprisal of Tuesday's effort. Chances aren't easy to come by against clubs of Real Madrid's stature, and Werner was bought to bury them.   


Winner: Karim Benzema 

Scoring goals in the Champions League is just what Benzema does, so it wasn't shocking when he got another one—a true beauty—to salvage a draw for Real Madrid Tuesday:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

13 GOALS IN HIS LAST 13 STARTS. KARIM BENZEMA. 😱 https://t.co/Dl2kTmCi0Y

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Chelsea favourites now but they might have put tie to bed and that Benzema goal was so good, it will haunt them in run up to second leg

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

71 - Karim Benzema has scored his 71st goal in the UEFA Champions League, making him the joint-fourth top scorer in the competition’s history (along with Raúl). Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have now scored more than the Frenchman. Pedigree. #UCL

Ray Hudson @RayHudson

Benzema!!Great set piece play from Los Blancos & BIG BENZ showing more twists & turns than a cheap garden hose!!!! #RealMadridChelsea

And he nearly had a brace:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Karim Benzema 🤭 https://t.co/jdUXJpCXE8

For years, Benzema was well-respected but lived in the shadows of bigger stars like Cristiano Ronaldo. Now, if Los Blancos are to advance to the Champions League final, it will probably be on the back of Benzema. 


Loser: Eden Hazard

It's been a rough two years for Eden Hazard at Real Madrid. 

Once one of the brightest stars in football, Hazard has barely seen the pitch as he's dealt with injury after injury with Los Blancos. When he has been healthy, he hasn't made a huge impact. That was the case again on Tuesday when he was subbed on in the second half. 

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

📊 Eden Hazard's first ever appearance vs Chelsea ⏱️ Minutes Played - 24 👉 Touches - 12 🤤 Dribbles - 0 🔐 Key Passes - 0 🏹 Shots - 0 📉 Rating - 5.99 https://t.co/Hy12G3wWJL

The performance wasn't great, but perhaps just seeing a healthy Hazard again out on the pitch is enough of a positive for Real Madrid:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

"He looks happy." Belgium National Team Manager, Roberto Martinez, on Eden Hazard's performance today against his former club. 👏 https://t.co/VXXlefsuYO

But it will surely hurt Hazard, at least a little, that he wasn't able to make a bigger splash against his former club in Chelsea. It's just been the way of things for him during his time with Los Blancos. Perhaps in the return leg he'll shine once again.


Winner: Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea's sparkling form under Tuchel continues. 

Yes, it looked like Chelsea might run away with this game in the early stages, only to see some of the wind taken out of the game's sails in the second half. But no matter—Chelsea got a much-needed away goal. They are now a win or scoreless draw away from advancing to the Champions League final. 

William Hill @WilliamHill

🔵 Thomas Tuchel has never lost a UCL game against Real Madrid 🔵 Chelsea have never lost a competitive game against Real Madrid The Blues are one win away from the final. #UCL https://t.co/YgW6KfOIPC

Stefan Bienkowski @SBienkowski

Pep Guardiola will win that weird Best FIFA Men's Coach Award ™️ in December but Thomas Tuchel will probably end up deserving it.

Tuchel has the Blues moving in the right direction. There's much work to do, but Chelsea will be happier with Tuesday's result than Real Madrid.