Thomas Tuchel has admitted a lack of “composure and precision” in front of goal cost Chelsea a potentially-decisive Champions League semi-final first leg victory at Real Madrid.
Christian Pulisic rounded goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and fired home to put Chelsea into a stunning early lead, only for Karim Benzema to conjure a peerless finish to scramble the muddled Madrid side a 1-1 draw.
Blues boss Tuchel conceded he is unsure whether the away goal and the draw will hand Chelsea the edge in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, May 5.
Timo Werner failed to convert two fine first-half chances for the west Londoners, leaving Tuchel delighted with the application but circumspect about the end product.
“We defend together as a team, all the strikers have their part,” Tuchel said.
“We always defend as a block with 11 people so I don’t feel we are pointing fingers.
“But of course, the strikers are the first guys who want to score and be decisive. They want to do it for themselves and the team, this is the highest level.
“Sometimes if you have such a good half-an-hour as we had, with chances and half-chances, you wish for more composure and precision in the decision-making and finishing itself.
“It was not like this so the challenge was more to not worry too long, regret too long and not lose confidence. We did this in the second half and defended very, very well.
“We suffered physically because we only had two days in between. You cannot change five times in the Premier League so it is quite physically demanding.
“Today you could feel this at the end of the game.”
Benzema’s 71st Champions League goal and his 28th of the season in all competitions provided the perfect example of clinical striking play.
The Frenchman cushioned a header to himself on the edge of the six-yard box and blasted past the helpless Edouard Mendy before anyone else had chance to move.
Chelsea pinned back a sloppy and sluggish Real time and again however, and will be frustrated not to have found the net at least once more.
Asked if the draw favours the Blues, Tuchel replied: “I don’t know actually, I have the feeling that we should have won the first half.
“And that we deserved to win the first half and we could have maybe decided this match very, very early, in the first half-an-hour, where we were playing so, so strong.
“The second half was a bit of a tactical match and you could feel that we only had two days between two away games.
“Both games were very demanding physically and mentally, so you could feel in decision-making, and then in some ball losses and acceleration that we suffered from that today.
“One more day would have been great for us but it was not like this.
“So now is the challenge first of all to enjoy a free day for the group, then forget this result, stay focused on the next challenge, go step by step and then next week we have to face another big challenge against Real Madrid.
“It will be a tough one because it’s the Champions League semi-final and nothing is sure.
“Even if we had won here, everything is possible; it’s half-time and we need to fight for every centimetre and for every advantage.”
Real boss Zinedine Zidane insisted the draw was a reasonable reflection of the game.
He said: “I think it’s a fair result, it’s true that the first half was not our best.
“We had some difficulties, but in the second half it was better so I’d say it was a fair result.
“You have to suffer but I am happy for all my players, because we are alive.
“We know we have to go to London, try to score and win the match.”