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Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said his side should have wrapped up their Champions League semi-final first leg with Real Madrid in the first half on Tuesday and rued missed chances in the 1-1 draw that could have put the game beyond their opponents.
US forward Christian Pulisic fired Chelsea in front in the 14th minute in the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium, and the visitors created plenty more opportunities in the first half as 13-times winners Real struggled to make any inroads at the other end.
Yet Chelsea’s inability to score a second away goal proved costly as Karim Benzema’s fine effort levelled things up before the break with his side’s only shot on target in the opening period.
“I have a feeling we should have won the first half and we could have perhaps decided this game in the first half an hour when we were playing so strong,” Tuchel told the BBC.
“The second half was a tactical game and you could feel we only had two days in between two away games which made it physically and mentally demanding and you could feel it in the decision making.
“We suffered a bit and an extra day would have been nice.”
Timo Werner failed to beat Thibaut Courtois from close range early in the game and Tuchel was left frustrated by the German striker’s inability to put away clear chances.
“He missed a big one at West Ham United (on Saturday) and now he’s missed a big one here, that doesn’t help,” Tuchel told a news conference. “It doesn’t help crying about it or regretting it.
“There are millions of people who have harder things to deal with than chances that you miss… I don’t feel we’re pointing fingers but of course the strikers want to score.
“This is the highest level and when you have a good half an hour like we did… then yes we wish for more composure and more precision in the decision making and finishing.”
Tuchel continued his fine record against Zinedine Zidane’s side in Europe’s premier club competition – the German is the only manager to face Real as many as five times without ever losing in Champions League history.
Having scored the away goal, Chelsea are in the driving seat to reach a first Champions League final since 2012 ahead of next week’s return leg at Stamford Bridge.
“It is just the first half (of the tie), we knew against Real Madrid it would be tough,” Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta told BT Sport.
“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 last pass where we could choose the best option.
“But in the overall analysis we performed well. As a unit I think we are all improving and all growing.”