Faith, hope and Karim Benzema
First things first, credit to match official Danny Makkelie and his refereeing team for an impeccable performance. It was a faultless display which enhanced the game and laid to rest any suspicions that were being thrown about before the match. His mind was not focused on whether or not Ceferin would prefer to see Real Madrid advance but to carry out his task and not become the protagonist of the tie. He carried out his task wonderfully, controlling the game with authority and never needed to call upon VAR. A refereeing performance fitting for the semi-final of this prestigious competition.
Another hat-tip goes to Karim Benzema. Just before kick-off, a friend of mine sent me a message simply saying: “Faith, hope and Benzema”. At the start of the game, Real Madrid were outclassed by the English side who had taken the lead through Pulisic shortly after Werner had spurned a wonderful chance to open the put the Londoners ahead. Benzema came close for the home side with a left footed effort hitting the woodwork as Madrid started to pull their way back into the contest. The equaliser came from a corner for Zidane's men with the ball falling to the French striker who controlled with his head and delivered a sensational volley to pull Real Madrid level.
All to play for at Stamford Bridge
To be frank, a 1-1 scoreline is not a great result for Real Madrid as Chelsea showed that they are a fine side indeed. The English outfit totally dominated the first 30 minutes of the contest and upon last night's showing are probably favourites to stake a place in the Istanbul final in May. Despite the levels of fatigue which was particularly apparent with Modric and Kroos looking jaded and despite Benzema getting little help in his striking task, Madrid were much better in the second half. Zidane's team have already had to overcome some major obstacles in this year's competition to reach this point and despite the adversity go into the second leg with the tie still very much alive.
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