UEFA Champions League

Champions League semifinals: Real Madrid vs. Chelsea best moments from first leg

April 27

The road to European soccer's biggest prize is closing in on its ultimate destination.

The UEFA Champions League semifinals kicked off Tuesday, with Real Madrid hosting Chelsea in the first leg of their semifinal tie held at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in Madrid.

The bulk of the action came in the first half, with a great goal apiece setting the tone early.

A frenetic first half gave way to a more reserved second half, with both teams settling in as the rain in Spain poured down throughout the match.

As it stands, Chelsea takes a slender advantage on the away-goals tiebreaker, with a 1-1 final score.

The second leg will take place May 5 at Chelsea's home, Stamford Bridge. For now, let's look at the best moments from Tuesday's first leg between the two European powerhouses.

Near disaster for Chelsea

Real Madrid came painstakingly close to breaking the deadlock with a double-headed effort in the 88th minute.

Real's Casemiro nearly made Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell want to crawl into a hole after Casemiro's header doinked off the dome of an unsuspecting Chilwell and toward the net of Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Fortunately for Chilwell ⁠— and everyone rooting for the Blues ⁠— the deflection skimmed across the grass and wide of the net for another corner kick.

Lucky No. 13

Karim Benzema has been an absolute force for Real Madrid. For evidence, look no further than this special goal to knot the score at 1-1 in the first half.

That'd be an amazing finish on the practice field, without opponents, in perfect weather. Instead, he did it in the Champions League semis, surrounded by Chelsea players, in the pouring rain.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise, though, considering that he has scored 13 goals in his previous 13 starts, according to CBS Sports. 

Talk about automatic.

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The American!

A delicious through ball from Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger set up U.S. men's national team star Christian Pulisic to do what he does best and work up a little bit of magic.

With a few deft touches, he collected the ball, navigated around the keeper and fired the Blues into the lead to open the game's scoring.

With the goal, he became just the first American to reach five goals in Champions League history, per the USMNT.

Oh, and he's just 22 years old.

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Early denial

Chelsea started on the front foot in the opening few minutes, giving their hosts plenty of trouble.

A golden chance came in the 10th minute after Mason Mount found Christian Pulisic with a cross in Real Madrid's box.

The American cushioned a header for Timo Werner, whose right-footed attempt from point-blank range was thwarted by the feet of Thibaut Courtois.

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