Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is dreaming of guiding the club to their maiden Champions League final after seizing control of the blockbuster tie with Paris Saint-Germain.

Last season's runners-up PSG looked on track to clinch a semi-final first-leg advantage over City thanks to Marquinhos' 15th-minute header before the English visitors produced a second-half comeback.

Outplayed in the opening half on Wednesday, Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put the Premier League leaders ahead seven minutes later.

Under the current format of the Champions League (since 2003-04), City became the first English side to win 10-plus games in a single campaign.

City – on the cusp of winning the Premier League – have never reached the Champions League final.

"What we have done is incredible and we compete really well. In the latter stages you cannot compete for 90 minutes perfectly," Guardiola, who led Barcelona to two Champions League titles, told reporters.

"Of course it is a dream to reach the final for the first time and we are going to do it, knowing if we are able to do what we done for 55-60 minutes or be more cautious thinking about the result, being cautious and having to defend, or thinking about winning the game.

"We are going to play the game with the mentality we will have a good chance to go through."

City have now won their past 18 away matches in all competitions, scoring 46 goals during the run while conceding just nine.

In the history of the European Cup/Champions League, there have been 47 instances before City's victory over PSG of an English side winning the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie away from home, and on all 47 occasions the English team has progressed.

Guardiola added: "I was happy in the locker room after the players were just calm. Not cheering, just calm. Anything can happen in the second leg... I know it.

"We have the pressure because we have a good results and want to reach the final but I am not talking about the consequence of the result, I am thinking about what we have to do to be ourselves.

"Now we prepare for Palace because we want to win three Premier League from the last four years. And now I am going to analyse the team. PSG can change to another system and shape and many things can happen.

"We have a feeling when they are near our box how dangerous they are. We scored two goals away from home but everything is open. And I have the feeling my players know it. So it is not necessary to tell them."

Neymar said "we lost the battle but the war continues" as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar keeps the faith with the club's Champions League hopes in the balance.

Manchester City seized control of the semi-final tie thanks to Wednesday's 2-1 victory in Paris, where Pep Guardiola's visitors produced a sensational second-half turnaround against PSG.

PSG captain Marquinhos opened the scoring in the 15th minute as last season's runners-up outplayed City in the opening half in the French capital.

But Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put City ahead seven minutes later, while PSG ended the match with 10 men following Idrissa Gueye's 77th-minute red card.

As PSG face an uphill task ahead of their return leg in Manchester, Neymar reacted to the result via social media.

"We lost the battle but the war continues," Neymar wrote in a Twitter post post-match. "I believe in my team.

"I believe that we can be better than we were. ALLEZ PARIS. One per cent chance 99 per cent faith."

Neymar has not scored in his last six games in the knockout stages of the Champions League, with his last goal outside the group stage coming against Borussia Dortmund in 2019-20.

The midweek collapse was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino pointed to his side's knockout away wins at Barcelona and Bayern Munich as he tries to reverse their 2-1 deficit against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

City triumphed 2-1 in Paris in the first leg of their final-four tie on Wednesday, leaving Pochettino's PSG with an uphill battle at the Etihad Stadium next week.

However, PSG eliminated Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 following a 4-1 win at Camp Nou before ousting holders Bayern on away goals following a 3-2 win at Allianz Arena in matches played behind closed doors.

"Of course, we played well in the first half [against Manchester City on Wednesday] and it's our hope to go and play well in Manchester away from home," Pochettino told reporters post-game.

"We played well in Barcelona and also in Munich. Belief is the most important.

"It's very important to have that information right now so that you can play the 90 minutes back and build on it."

It was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

PSG's star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – who failed to attempt a single shot for the first time in his Champions League career – had few chances on Wednesday, although Pochettino said "I think that will be different in a week".

Pochettino insisted Ligue 1 champions PSG – last season's Champions League runners-up – have the talent to overcome their first-leg deficit despite the enormity of the task against City.

"It will be complicated, because Manchester City are a great team, but we have to believe," Pochettino said. "We have the talent to do it."

PSG will be without Idrissa Gueye for the second leg after his red card for a late tackle on City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, although Pochettino refused to criticise the Senegalese midfielder.

"I have nothing to say about it, it's football, it can happen," Pochettino added. "We all make mistakes, and he made it that way. It is an action that happens in football, it is not beautiful or good, indeed, but it can happen.

"Now we have to go ahead and prepare for the next game. We have to be ready for Saturday [against Lens in Ligue 1] and then Tuesday."

Mauricio Pochettino said it is difficult to accept Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League loss to Manchester City as he rued a game of "two different halves".

City seized control of the semi-final tie thanks to Wednesday's 2-1 victory in Paris, where Pep Guardiola's visitors produced a sensational second-half turnaround against PSG.

PSG captain Marquinhos opened the scoring in the 15th minute as last season's runners-up outplayed City in the opening half in the French capital.

But Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put City ahead seven minutes later, while PSG ended the match with 10 men following Idrissa Gueye's 77th-minute red card.

The Ligue 1 giants face an uphill task reaching the Champions League final for a second consecutive season as head coach Pochettino lamented the manner in which the Ligue 1 champions conceded.

"There were two different halves. In the first half we did well. We created chances and deserved the lead, but in the second half they were better than us," Pochettino told BT Sport.

"The two goals were accidents, but they created more than us. In the end it was one half for each of us.

"We're very disappointed with the two goals. It's difficult to accept that this happened in the semi-final – it's really painful. In the second half they were more consistent.

"It was difficult for us to cope. Physically they were a little bit more aggressive. It was difficult for us to recover the ball."

It was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

"In football you need to believe. We go there in six days and will try to win and score goals," said Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to the 2019 Champions League final after dramatically upstaging Guardiola's City in the quarter-finals.

"Of course we are under a little bit of pressure, but in football you need to try."

Pep Guardiola revealed how a more aggressive approach was the key to Manchester City rallying from a goal down to beat Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

Second-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez clinched the Premier League side a 2-1 triumph on the road in an eventful first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

City had been second best before the break as they trailed to an early Marquinhos header, though Guardiola felt they were architects of their own issues due to a lack of experience.

However, a spectacular turnaround means City have a slender lead to take into the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium, where even a 1-0 loss will be enough to secure the club a first final appearance in the competition.

"Sometimes you need to be more relaxed, a little bit more yourself," Guardiola told BT Sport.

"In the first half, it was normal. There are 180 minutes and you don't want to lose the ball, you don't play free.

"We changed a little bit the way we press, we were more aggressive as the first 20 minutes we were so passive.

"The last 10-15 minutes of the first half, then into the second half, we were more aggressive - and it is not easy to be that way with [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar and [Angel] Di Maria, but we found the goals and could have scored another one.

"In general, I'm so satisfied for the performance. But this is halfway. We still have many more minutes to beat them, and PSG is a team where anything can happen."

City have now won their past 18 away matches in all competitions, scoring 46 goals during the run while conceding just nine.

PSG have won in Manchester once already this season – they triumphed 3-1 against City's neighbours United in the group stages in December – but will be without Idrissa Gueye for the second leg.

The midfielder became the first player to be sent off twice in a single Champions League campaign since Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa in 2012-13 following a late tackle on Ilkay Gundogan.

Guardiola made clear that while City have control at the halfway stage, they must remain true to their methods as they aim to remain on course for a famous treble.

"At 1-0 they were good, we couldn't press well and didn't have good possession in the right positions," the Spaniard – twice a Champions League winner while in charge of Barcelona – said.

"Sometimes that is normal. This club doesn't have much experience in this competition in the last stages, especially semi-finals, but I think this is going to help us realise that we have to be ourselves, or anything can happen.

"In the second half we were incredibly aggressive and played really well.

"All I want is for us to be ourselves in the second leg. If we are good it is playing in a certain way, we cannot do it differently."

Kevin De Bruyne credited Pep Guardiola's changes as decisive in instigating Manchester City's turnaround against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

In what proved a gripping Champions League semi-final first leg, City looked to be in trouble early on as Marquinhos headed PSG into a 15th-minute lead, with the hosts deservedly ahead at the break.

But the second half was an entirely different story as City played more on the front foot, with De Bruyne and a Riyad Mahrez free-kick completing the turnaround.

This was the first time Kylian Mbappe completed 90 minutes in a Champions League match and failed to attempt a single shot, highlighting PSG's issues.

While City's improvement was most notable in the second period, De Bruyne felt a key alteration was made just before the half-hour mark – it may partly explain why PSG did not have a single shot on target after the 28th minute.

Speaking to BT Sport, De Bruyne said: "It was a game of two halves. We started well in the first 10 minutes but PSG are an unbelievable team and have great quality up front.

"It was a shame the way we conceded. After that they had a couple of small chances. After 25 minutes we changed the way we pressed them and it became better.

"The second half was much, much better. We put them under pressure. The first goal was a little bit lucky with the way it went in, but we played great football and we did well."

Asked to elaborate on Guardiola's instructions at the break, De Bruyne added: "[We were told to] just play a little bit more with the ball.

"The first half, we were a bit too rushed, trying to go forward too quickly and that's not the way we are set up as a team.

"In the second half we tried to find space more patiently. They're a tough team to play against. The progression we made as a team was good."

The victory puts City in charge of the tie as they look to reach their first ever Champions League final.

The omens are good for them as well: in the history of the European Cup and Champions League, there have been 47 previous instances of an English side winning the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie away from home, and on each occasion that team has progressed.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos lamented two "really stupid goals" conceded against Manchester City, but he remains steadfast in his belief they can reach the Champions League final for a second consecutive season.

PSG – runners-up in 2020 – looked on track to clinch a first-leg advantage over City in the semi-final thanks to Marquinhos' 15th-minute header before the English visitors produced a sensational second-half comeback on Wednesday.

Outplayed in the opening half, Pep Guardiola's high-flying City seized control of the tie as Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put the Premier League leaders ahead seven minutes later.

PSG's collapse was compounded by Idrissa Gueye's red card for a dangerous challenge on City star Ilkay Gundogan with 13 minutes remaining in the French capital.

It was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna – but Marquinhos is refusing to give up on reaching the Istanbul decider ahead of the return leg in Manchester.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

"It's true that in the second half we were too far behind, we couldn't get out of our half," Marquinhos, who became only the third player in Champions League history to score in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals in consecutive seasons, told RMC Sport.

"The City team were more aggressive, they played higher. That was it. We need to be more consistent in both periods in the next game, we have 90 minutes left but we have to do better to get to the final.

"It's hard to analyse immediately, but it's hard when you run behind the ball. We couldn't counter them well. You have to be smart, see the strategies that can be put in place. We conceded two really stupid goals, these are details, it's the Champions League. You have to better manage these little details and stay strong in goal situations.

"The return match? It will take personality, whoever does not believe in it should not even go there. It takes a warrior mentality, doing whatever it takes to get through. 

"We are very close, we must not doubt [ourselves] now. We have to improve what we did not do well today, but we have everything we need to reverse the situation. You have to believe and be strong."

Kylian Mbappe turned towards the bench. A wry grin was accompanied by what looked like a knowing nod, one that portrayed supreme confidence.

Had you been Joao Cancelo and seen such a display of composure from a player as deadly as Mbappe ahead of a Champions League semi-final, you might have been tempted to ask for an immediate substitution.

While much of the pre-match build-up from the PSG perspective focused on the Frenchman and his illustrious strike partner Neymar, in the end their magic was in short supply in Paris as Manchester City seemingly put one foot in next month's final.

City winning 2-1 wouldn't have been backed by many punters on the back of a particularly gripping first half at the end of which PSG arguably should've been more than 1-0 to the good.

There was a key pattern to the first half established within two minutes as PSG showed the raw tenacity of their midfield. Rodri was robbed and a counter was sprung, leading to Neymar shooting at Ederson.

That relentlessness from the PSG central trio was essential to the hosts outcompeting their City counterparts in the first 45 minutes.

While Mbappe and Neymar had been the centre of attention, it was their supporting case who were shining.

Mauricio Pochettino's set-up highlighted the respect held for Pep Guardiola and City, as PSG's shape resembled two banks of four designed to snuff out the spaces that the likes of Kevin De Bruyne enjoy exploiting.

But on top of that, PSG almost constantly had Mbappe and Neymar up as a central attacking duo. Pochettino was well aware that counter-attacking teams led by ball-carriers have been a problem for City.

Neymar's trickery at times in the first half certainly didn't make life easier for City. He left a couple of defenders in knots when testing Ederson in the 13th minute, before then pulling off a clever nutmeg on De Bruyne.

But for the most part PSG's star duo took something of a backseat.

Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti were especially effective as they hounded after the City midfield, while the threat of counter-attacks meant City's full-backs played withdrawn roles.

While they would normally create overloads out wide, there was little sign of that as Cancelo and Kyle Walker were forced to sit deep.

Marquinhos' wonderful header was a just reward for PSG's excellent first-half display and might have had some pointing out: 'Hey, there's more to PSG than Mbappe and Neymar!'

But the tables turned in the second half, and dramatically so.

With the full-backs pushed higher and the wide midfielders coming in a little narrower, City looked to suffocate PSG and keep them penned into their own half as much as possible.

The intensity adopted by the likes of Verratti, Paredes and Gueye was seemingly unsustainable and the out-ball to Mbappe was cut out instantly almost every time, while Neymar became a passenger.

The Brazilian's most significant movement after the break was to sprint 30 metres to ask the referee to send De Bruyne off. He was unsuccessful.

City's start to the second half saw them well on top and that remained the status quo virtually until full-time, as they appeared in less of a rush and instead returned to their ideals relating to ball retention.

The equaliser certainly had a hint of fortune about it as De Bruyne's delivery from deep went all the way in, but it was a consequence of City's unrelenting pressure.

Their second, not too long after, will undoubtedly have Pochettino asking questions of his players, with Riyad Mahrez's free-kick somehow allowed to squeeze through a feeble wall.

Gueye's straight red then helped maintain City's lead, but it was Guardiola's changes at the interval – getting City back on the front foot and in control – that proved pivotal.

The Catalan has frequently in the past been accused of getting in his own way, overcomplicating things and getting caught out, especially in this competition.

Not here, though. No, he went back to basics when their situation was looking a little dicey and it proved a masterstroke.

Manchester City produced a sensational second-half turnaround to seize control of their Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez getting the goals in a 2-1 first-leg triumph.

A pulsating contest at the Parc des Princes saw PSG take a 15th minute lead when captain Marquinhos – returning to action from a groin injury – headed in at a corner.

However, having been second best during the first half, City were vastly improved after the break, an equaliser arriving when De Bruyne's curling delivery into the penalty area drifted beyond everybody to find the net.

An 18th straight away triumph for Pep Guardiola's side was secured courtesy of a Mahrez free-kick that found a gap in the wall and, having lost control of the game, PSG then lost their cool in the closing stages, Idrissa Gueye shown a straight red for a dangerous challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

There had been little sign of the drama to come at half-time. The hosts were deservedly ahead after Marquinhos – who had not played since scoring in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the quarter-final first leg – had flicked in a deliciously whipped-in delivery from Angel Di Maria.

City's best chance to equalise before the break came when the hosts gifted them possession, but Phil Foden was only able to shoot straight at Keylor Navas when afforded a clear sight of the target.

Yet Pep Guardiola's side penned PSG in to change the complexion of the tie completely. They had a 65.1 per cent share of possession after the interval, leading to them getting two crucial away goals ahead of the return fixture next week.

De Bruyne appeared to be aiming for a team-mate but ended up scoring himself, though there was no doubt Mahrez meant his strike, PSG crumbling under pressure.

While there is still work to do back in Manchester, a first-ever Champions League final appearance for the club is within City's grasp thanks to an unforgettable night in Paris.

Neymar believes he and Kylian Mbappe have formed the best duo in world football at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe and Neymar are expected to start when PSG host Manchester City in the first leg of their huge Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

The French champions were beaten by Bayern Munich in the final of last season's competition and are looking to become the ninth team to reach back-to-back finals.

Neymar arrived from Barcelona in 2017, the same summer when Mbappe was brought in from Monaco – with the two deals remaining the most expensive transfers in football history.

The two world-class forwards are at different stages of their careers and both are out of contract in 2022.

Neymar hopes they can continue their partnership at PSG, which he believes is making history, for the foreseeable future.

"With Kylian Mbappe, our relationship has always been very good since his arrival," Neymar said to RMC.

"We have been playing together for four years now and making history. He is a very high level player with whom I take a lot of fun playing. 

"I hope we will continue to play together for many years to come because it's hard to find such a duo for sure. 

"I don't see a better duo than us in football."

City eliminated PSG in their only previous knockout tie meeting in European football, progressing 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-final five years ago.

Neymar has either scored or assisted in each of his three appearances in a Champions League semi-final.

The Brazil forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals from his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and four assists).

He thinks PSG, now managed by Mauricio Pochettino after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, are playing at their highest level since he signed for the club.

"Absolutely," he said. "We are a team that are much more prepared and we know what to do. 

"Last year we went to the final, we hope to get there again. 

"I'm calm, I have complete confidence in my team, in my team-mates - we will get there."

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is braced for a "cup final" at Stamford Bridge after Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea left the Champions League tie evenly poised.

Karim Benzema scored a 29th-minute equaliser as Madrid rallied from behind to draw at home to Chelsea in the opening leg of their semi-final tie in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Madrid made a sluggish start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, though Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

"The return leg will be like a cup final. Their aggression and intensity, which was greater than ours, took its toll," Courtois said post-match after facing former side Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles before leaving in 2018.

"We wanted to make the sort of start that they did and apply a high press. They gave their all. We struggled a bit more in the opening 20-25 minutes.

"We have to improve on the balls over the top. We were more in control in the second half."

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – have they had fewer in a Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in Champions League play. Still, they are the team who have scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"With the score at 1-1, the second leg is like a cup final. I don't think it will finish 0-0," added Courtois. "They might be more relaxed about it, but I think they would be wrong to sit back.

"We caused them problems when we were in possession. We'll see what kind of game it is. When we analyse it with Zidane, we'll see what the plan is for Stamford Bridge."

Madrid head coach Zidane added: "The team have faith on what we work. That's the most important. We know our skills and trust them. We trying to do our best in each game.

"It is not easy because playing every three days different games against very good teams, like today, it is tough. But we are confident on our chances and we will try to comeback in the second leg.

"We will go to win the game, and especially, we know we need to score there."

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar wants Kylian Mbappe to "break all the records possible" as he hailed his star team-mate ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.

Neymar and Mbappe are central to PSG's Champions League hopes this season, with last year's runners-up preparing to face Pep Guardiola's City in the semis on Wednesday.

Mbappe – who has been linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid – has starred since joining PSG from Monaco in 2018, and the latter hopes they keep coming. 

Neymar spoke of his admiration for France forward Mbappe on the eve of the opening leg against Premier League leaders City in Paris.

"We have a great friendship. He is a great player and he has been showing that year after year," said Neymar.

"I hope he keeps scoring goals and playing well because that is how he helps us on the pitch. Of course, I am always behind him.

"I want him to break all the records possible. He is a fantastic person. I hope I can play well again and that PSG come out victorious."

Neymar, who moved to PSG from Barcelona for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, is under contract through next year but would like to continue playing alongside Mbappe at Parc des Princes in the future. 

More immediately, the pair will be focused on a return to the Champions League final, where they fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich in 2020.

Mbappe had returned from an ankle injury less than two weeks before the final, and he has also been a subject of injury concern this week. 

But PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino said Tuesday that Mbappe has recovered from the thigh injury that forced him to leave Saturday's Ligue 1 win over Metz.

PSG star Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances, while he has had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and assists).

Thomas Tuchel has told misfiring Chelsea forward Timo Werner that it is no time to cry over his form in front of goal.

Werner has struggled to replicate the form that saw him score 28 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig last season since joining the Blues in a £47.5million deal.

The Germany international scored the only goal in a vital 1-0 win at West Ham on Saturday – his sixth in 31 Premier League outings.

However, his demons in front of goal returned during Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw at Real Madrid as he volleyed a glorious close-range opportunity too close to Thibaut Courtois.

Werner's four shots were more than any of his Chelsea team-mates, with two on target and one blocked before he was withdrawn in favour of compatriot Kai Havertz midway through the second-half.

"He missed a big one at West Ham, now he missed another big one here," Tuchel told a news conference after Karim Benzema's well-taken volley cancelled out Christian Pulisic's 14th-minute opener.

"That does not help, but it also does not help to cry about it or to regret it all the time.

"It's like this. There are millions of people who have harder things to deal with than chances that you miss.

"This is the good thing about sports. Nobody cares tomorrow. Today we were sad, we were angry in the moment.

"This is normal. He is angry, he is maybe disappointed. Tomorrow he has a free day and then the next day he has to put his chin up."

Werner has scored six non-penalty goals for Chelsea across the Premier League and Champions League, with his shots in those competitions adding up to an expected goals (xG) figure of 13.4 – underlining his woes.

However, the 25-year-old's selfless running and work rate has been valuable to Tuchel since he succeeded Frank Lampard in January.

Although he did not create any chances for his colleague in the Spanish capital, Werner has supplied eight assists amid his Premier League and Champions League efforts this term.

"He is a professional guy, he is a top guy. He works hard, he is in the positions and from there on we go," Tuchel added.

"We will never stop pushing, we will never stop believing. I have the feeling that everybody accepts the situation as it is.

"As a striker it is easy – you score the next game and nobody speaks."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane praised Karim Benzema but insisted he is not surprised by the star forward following his goalscoring performance as Los Blancos battled to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.

Benzema rescued Madrid on Tuesday – the Frenchman cancelling out Christian Pulisic's 14th-minute opener just before the half-hour mark in the opening leg of the semi-final tie in the Spanish capital.

Madrid's Benzema once again showcased his importance as he drew level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Champions League history after netting his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, level with Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six goals in this season's Champions League. In only one of his 16 seasons in the competition has he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

"Karim is amazing and I am happy for him, but I am not surprised for what he is doing every game," Zidane told reporters.

"It is the same with all of my players. They are the most important. They have done again a great effort tonight and keeping the faith in what we are doing.

"There are difficulties, of course, because we have an amazing team in front of us and they are Champions League semi-finals. We have suffered.

"But I am very happy for all of the players, because we are alive. We know we have to go to London and score goals in order to win the game."

Los Blancos were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half. They have faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – have they had fewer in a Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in the Champions League, though they have still scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"We were much better in the second 45 minutes. We were much more organised. They started strongly and quickly, but I think it's a fair result," said Zidane.

"We wanted to press high one on one, but when you don't carry it out well, things are tough. Once we scored, we were better and controlled play a lot more.

"We're alive and we're going to the second leg with the idea of winning. In general, we're happy with tonight."

Madrid were without captain Sergio Ramos due to a calf injury but he could return for the second leg in London, with Zidane adding: "I wish he could be with us. I cannot tell you now.

"Sergio has not had any training with the group, so we are waiting for him. We wish he could be as soon as possible.

"All the players, Sergio, and the rest. Lucas [Vazquez] is a bit more complicated due to his injury, but also Ferland [Mendy], Fede [Valverde]. All of them. I want all of my players with me, sure."

Raphael Varane said Chelsea's pressing game proved problematic for Real Madrid, though he remains optimistic about his club's Champions League chances.

Karim Benzema rescued Madrid on Tuesday as Los Blancos rallied from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Chelsea in the opening leg of the semi-final tie in the Spanish capital.

Madrid made a sluggish start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, though Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Reflecting on the match, Varane – who has been linked with a move to Los Blancos' Tuesday opponents – told Movistar: "I think we saw two games between the first half and the second.

"They started well with a lot of intensity and they pressed us well, and they broke our first line of the press with some very vertical play. With Karim's goal we got into the game and the second half was a lot better.

"We couldn't break their lines with our passing. Their press was annoying for us and we'll need to learn from the start of the game for the second leg."

Benzema once again showcased his importance to Madrid – the Frenchman drawing level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Champions League history after netting his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, level Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six goals in this season's Champions League. In only one of his 16 seasons in the competition has he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

"In a game like this, Benzema makes the difference – he changed the dynamic of the game. We know his quality and he helps us a lot," Varane said.

"At this stage of the competition, our fitness will be important physically and also mentally. We need to go out to win the return leg."

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 - when they had none - have they had fewer in a  Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in Champions League. Still, they are the team who have scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"We came in with a plan to do things and we couldn't do it," Marcelo told Movistar. "But when we started to do what we wanted, it was totally different.

"They run a lot, we knew it could happen, but there is another game as well. We know what we have to. It will be different at Stamford Bridge.

"We do not choose the rhythm of the game, we have to adapt to what there is. It was a difficult game, as they all are, but we are fine, we are calm because we are going to play a good game there [at Chelsea]."

"We left with our heads high. Now we are going to rest and see what we will have to do there, but it will surely change."

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