Could a Premier League return be on the cards for Leroy Sane?

Sane swapped Manchester City for Bayern Munich in 2020, however, it has not gone according to plan in his native Germany.

Chelsea are reportedly trying to lure Sane back to England.

 

TOP STORY – SANE TO MAKE ENGLAND RETURN?

Chelsea are keen to sign Leroy Sane from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to the Express.

Sane left Manchester City for Bayern in 2020 but the Germany international has struggled for form in Munich.

Champions League holders Chelsea – led by German boss Thomas Tuchel – are reportedly targeting Sane and are willing to include Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic in any deal.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United could target Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic in January, per Manchester Evening News. Brozovic is nearing the end of his Inter contract, with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona also among the Croatia international's admirers. The report has also linked United with Barca's Pedri and Borussia Monchengladbach forward Dennis Zakaria, who has been previously linked to City and Inter.

Liverpool are continuing contract talks with star Mohamed Salah, says the Liverpool Echo, which claims Salah is not asking for £500,000 per week, despite previous reports. Salah has been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona previously.

Franck Ribery is set to join Serie A newcomers Salernitana on a free transfer, according to Fabrizio Romano. The former Bayern and France star has been without a club since leaving Fiorentina at the end of 2020-21.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma are hoping to sign Zenit star Sardar Azmoun on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- The front page of Monday's Tuttosport claims Inter are eyeing soon-to-be free agents Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli and Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso. Insigne has previously been linked with Milan and Liverpool, while the likes of United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Roma have been credited with interest in Tolisso.

- Calciomercato reports Inter are considering Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana as a long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic.

The United States' stuttering start to World Cup qualifying continued after they were held to a 1-1 draw by rivals Canada.

Brendan Aaronson's 56th-minute opener was cancelled out within six minutes by Canada forward Cyle Larin as the USA drew consecutive games on the road to Qatar 2022.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic returned to the starting line-up on Sunday after missing the USA's Octagonal opener against El Salvador following a positive coronavirus test.

Weston McKennie, though, was axed from the squad following a "violation of team policy", while Giovanni Reyna sat out due to a hamstring injury.

Canada made a lively start on the road in Nashville, where Larin checked his run and got on the end of Alphonso Davies' pass, but Matthew Turner somehow pushed the shot onto the crossbar in the 14th minute.

USA went close to breaking the deadlock five minutes before the break when Pulisic's shot hit the post from close-range.

CONCACAF Gold Cup champions the USA, though, did open the scoring via Aaronson, who slid onto the end of Antonee Robinson's cross 11 minutes into the second half.

The lead was short-lived however as Davies showed off his incredible pace, driving towards the penalty area before teeing up Larin for a simple tap-in just past the hour-mark.

Despite the draw, the USA extended their unbeaten streak to 11 matches across all competitions.

The United States and Canada both have two points from their opening two fixtures.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday's London derby against Arsenal.

The setback for the 22-year-old attacking midfielder comes less than a week after he scored in the Blues' 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on the Premier League's opening weekend.

Pulisic also helped Chelsea last week lift the UEFA Super Cup, netting in the penalty shoot-out as Thomas Tuchel's Champions League winners edged out Villarreal for more silverware.

On Friday, Pulisic posted in an Instagram story: "Hi all, unfortunately I tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

"Thankfully I'm fully vaccinated and I have no symptoms so far. Can't wait to get back in action! Than you for your support."

Chelsea boss Tuchel confirmed United States international Pulisic would miss the short trip to Emirates Stadium, saying: "With Christian, it's unfortunately very easy to explain. 

"He had a positive test and needs to follow the protocols so he won't be available for the game."

The news follows Arsenal confirming Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were absent against Brentford last Friday after testing positive for coronavirus.

It remains to be seen whether the Gunners forwards are fit and available to face Chelsea this weekend, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta saying it was a "very uncertain" situation.

"They had some tough days. Laca still hasn't trained so he's not been very good," Arteta told a news conference.

Manchester City saw their main rivals for the Premier League title get off to a flying start on Saturday before the champions stumbled at Tottenham on Sunday.

Son Heung-min continued his phenomenal recent record against City with the only goal, while Pep Guardiola's men drew a blank for a third consecutive game in all competitions. Perhaps there's someone in north London who could help them out with that?

Manchester United and European champions Chelsea revelled back in front of full houses and Liverpool gave newly-promoted Norwich City a reality check.

But those are the bare facts. Let's delve a little deeper to examine some of the quirkier happenings on the Premier League's opening weekend.

Stumbling start for City

Guardiola suggested his stars returning from Euro 2020 and Copa America duty might be undercooked and so it proved. The 1-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium puts City in territory they are not used to.

You have to go back to 2008-09 and a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa for the previous time City lost their opening Premier League fixture.

In that same campaign, Guardiola's fledgling Barcelona tenure got off to an inauspicious start with a reverse against Numancia that indicated little of the treble win that was about to unfold. The Catalan had overseen 11 subsequent opening day wins since then.

Perhaps it was always going to be Spurs who halted his run, Guardiola has now lost more away games against Tottenham (five) in all competitions than any other opponent in his career.

It is also worth considering whether he is chasing the wrong Spurs forward. Only Jamie Vardy (nine) has more than Son's seven goals against City since Guardiola took charge in 2016.

European champions Chelsea kicked off their Premier League campaign with a routine 3-0 win over London rivals Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Three days after winning the UEFA Super Cup on penalties against Villarreal, adding to May's Champions League triumph, the Blues dominated against Palace from start to finish.

Christian Pulisic was brought into the side as one of five changes from that midweek cup win and scored before half-time to add to Marcos Alonso's 27th-minute opener.

Palace's first game under Patrick Vieira went from bad to worse as Trevoh Chalobah marked his league debut for Chelsea with a superb goal, giving the returning home fans plenty of reason to celebrate.

Goalscorers Alonso and Pulisic combined early on as the latter glanced a header on target for Vicente Guaita to keep out.

Mason Mount tested Guaita from a free-kick, but the Palace shot-stopper could not get anywhere near Alonso's attempt, the wing-back curling the ball over the wall and into the net from 25 yards.

That was Chelsea's 50th direct free-kick goal in the Premier League – only Manchester United (64) have more – and they deservedly doubled their lead in the 40th minute.

Guaita spilled Mount's low cross from the right and Pulisic took full advantage by firing home the loose ball from close range.

Chelsea did not take their foot off the gas and had a third goal before the hour mark thanks to academy graduate Chalobah's long-ranger that went in off the left-hand post.

The hosts continued to threaten without finding a way through, but Tuchel would have been equally pleased with a first clean sheet in five league games stretching back into last season.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea off to strong start

This Premier League campaign may be the most competitive yet in terms of the title race, with Chelsea very much among the favourites following the return of Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee.

While the prolific striker did not feature in this opening game, the hosts still looked impressive pretty much from the first whistle against a Palace side very much under construction.

Chelsea have now won eight league games in a row against Palace and, while tougher tests lie in wait, this was a very promising start for Tuchel's men.

Pulisic punishes Palace

United States international Pulisic, who perhaps still has a point to prove in what is his third campaign at Chelsea, simply loves playing against Palace.

He has now scored five goals in five Premier League games against the Eagles, accounting for 36 per cent of his 14 goals in the competition.

Werner to make way?

Lukaku will likely be ready to start Chelsea's next match and Tuchel has a big decision to make in terms of his attacking line-up.

Werner provides qualities that go beyond scoring goals, but he was on the periphery here as he registered just one shot and managed only 28 touches of the ball – the fewest of any outfield Chelsea starter – despite playing 90 minutes.

What's next?

Chelsea face rivals Arsenal on their return to Premier League action in eight days' time, while Palace host newly promoted Brentford next Saturday.

Christian Pulisic scored a 114th-minute penalty and substitute goalkeeper Ethan Horvath saved a spot-kick six minutes later as the United States overcame Mexico 3-2 after extra time in a stunning inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final.

Poster boy Pulisic, who ended the 2020-21 campaign as a Champions League winner with Chelsea, converted deep into the second period of extra time after Carlos Salcedo was penalised for a foul following a VAR review on Sunday.

Mexico had the chance to force a penalty shoot-out six minutes later after receiving a spot-kick of their own via VAR, but Horvath – a replacement for injured star Zack Steffen in the 69th minute – denied Andres Guardado.

Extra time was needed after the Nations League decider finished 2-2 at the end of 90 absorbing minutes in Denver, where Jesus Corona's first-minute opener was cancelled out by Giovanni Reyna approaching the half-hour mark.

Mexico thought they had won the trophy thanks to substitute Diego Lainez in the 79th minute but Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie equalised three minutes later to send the match to extra time.

CONACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico were gifted a dream start inside a minute when Mark McKenzie's pass across the penalty area was played into the path of Corona, who fired powerfully past Steffen.

USA looked vulnerable defensively after the self-inflicted wound, though Josh Sargent managed to test Ochoa three minutes later.

Mexico thought they doubled the lead in the 24th minute after Hector Moreno found himself unmarked as he headed home Hector Herrera's delivery, but it was ruled offside following a VAR review.

That was a massive sigh of relief for USA, who went up the other end and equalised two minutes later via Reyna after McKennie's header had rattled the post.

Hirving Lozano wasted a golden chance to restore Mexico's lead two minutes before half-time – the Napoli forward beat the offside trap to find himself in a one-on-one situation with Steffen, but the City goalkeeper was quick off his line.

Mexico continued to be a threat in the second half, however Tata Martino's men had nothing to show for their efforts.

Sargent wasted a great opportunity to put the USA ahead just past the hour mark, but his rebound after Ochoa spilled McKenzie's long-range effort went over the bar.

Ochoa produced a magnificent save to keep the match on level terms, the Mexico goalkeeper diving to keep out McKennie's header with 19 minutes remaining.

Mexico introduced Lainez in the 78th minute and it proved an inspired substitution after drifting onto his left foot and firing into the back of the net a minute later, but the lead lasted just three minutes as McKennie restored parity with a header from a corner.

Extra time was needed, and VAR played a huge role in the second half of the additional period – USA firstly awarded a penalty in the 114th minute following Salcedo foul at the conclusion of a review.

VAR then ruled that McKenzie handled the ball inside the box the 120th minute, but Guardado saw his penalty saved by Horvath in wild scenes.

Christian Pulisic said it felt "just crazy" as the Chelsea forward became the first American player to be a Champions League winner.

The 22-year-old former Borussia Dortmund star came off the bench in the second half and went close to doubling Chelsea's lead, but they settled for a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

Speaking after the final in Porto, Pulisic told CBS Sports: "I can't explain it, it's still such a shock. I'm so proud."

He was watched by his parents and a number of friends from the stands at the Estadio do Dragao, making the occasion all the more special.

"I'm so thankful for all the support. To have people here today was amazing," Pulisic said.

"I knew I was going to have to put in the hard work defensively. I wish I put away the chance I had. I didn't quite get under it like I wanted, but in the end this team was always going to win this game and I'm so proud of them."

Plagued by injuries this season, Pulisic was able to bring father Mark and mother Kelley into the celebrations on the pitch to mark a happy ending to a tough campaign.

Pulisic added: "I have my parents here so I've just been speaking to them. I'm so proud to be here.

"It's been a difficult road for me and I couldn't imagine winning the Champions League ever in my life and now I'm here so it's just crazy."

While Chelsea's players head off to summer breaks or away on international duty, Pulisic said the aim next season would be to "come back and try to do the same thing".

Olivier Giroud, who played a significant part in Chelsea reaching the final, was an unused substitute against City.

But the veteran striker, who could have a big role to play for France at Euro 2020, was determined to enjoy the evening.

"It's extraordinary, we had a remarkable route, we knocked out some big teams like Real [Madrid], Atletico wasn't easy, Porto either, and tonight we played against a great team in City," Giroud told RMC Sports.

"It wasn't played out on a big thing, these kinds of matches are played out in details."

Giroud hailed the performance of player of the match and fellow Frenchman N'Golo Kante, whose action-packed display in midfield kept Chelsea moving forward.

"It's right that he was man of the match, he's huge, he won 50 balls, he hurt them," Giroud said.

"He's unbelievable, this guy. It feels like there are 12 players on the pitch with him. I'm happy for him.

"We're a bunch of friends and it shows on the pitch, I'm happy that our efforts have been rewarded. You could see our determination tonight and our desire to go out and get it."

Christian Pulisic admitted to being "very frustrated" at being left out of Chelsea's starting line-up for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid.

The United States international scored a crucial away goal for the Blues in last week's first leg but was named among the substitutes for the return fixture at Stamford Bridge.

He again made his impact known, however, by setting up a goal for Mason Mount 18 minutes after being introduced from the bench in the 2-0 win, which saw Chelsea through 3-1 on aggregate.

"I'm very frustrated," Pulisic, who has struggled with injuries this term, told CBS Sports. "There's not much else to say. I wanted to play from the beginning, as I always do.

"I've had to continue to prove myself over and over again. But, as always I reach out to God and he gives me strength. With that behind me, nothing can stop me really."

A look at the Opta stats shows Pulisic has a right to be frustrated, having now scored and assisted a combined four goals in the Champions League in nine appearances this term.

Only Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner have been directly involved in more (both six) - in eight and 11 games respectively.

For comparison, Mount - who has been superb for Chelsea this season - has three direct goal involvements in 10 Champions League games, while Kai Havertz has two from 11 respectively.

Focusing on the Premier League, meanwhile, Pulisic has four goals and one assist in 23 appearances this term, just 14 of those being starts.

Pulisic's average of a 0.26 goals per 90 minutes is slightly better than Havertz's return of 0.25 and behind only Giroud (0.5) and Tammy Abraham (0.52) among Chelsea's attackers. Werner, for context, averages 0.23.

The 22-year-old also performs better when it comes to chances created per 90 minutes in the English top flight when compared to Havertz - 1.37 to the German's 1.07.

But Pulisic still ranks some way below Hakim Ziyech, who has created 2.54 chances per 90 minutes this season and will also perhaps feel that he should be starting more often.

Mount (2.68) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (2.71) lead that particular metric, incidentally, which only highlights just how many options Thomas Tuchel has available in that zone.

One area Pulisic struggles in comparison to his attacking rivals is passing accuracy in the opposition half - 80.95, which is lower than Havertz's 84.3, Mount's 85.45 and Hudson-Odoi's 85.65. ​

The American's win rate when starting games also does not make for good reading.

The Blues have won 13 and lost just two of the 20 league games Pulisic has not featured from the beginning this term, compared to four wins and five losses in the 14 games he has been included in the XI.

Chelsea average 1.8 league goals with Pulisic in their starting line-up, as opposed to 1.3 without, while their average goals against rises from 0.6 to 1.4 when he starts.

Tuchel ultimately knows best when it comes to his team selection - and he is backed up by the possibility of a Champions League and FA Cup double - so Pulisic will simply have to keep proving himself if he is to hold down a regular starting spot.

Thomas Tuchel was left frustrated by Chelsea's finishing in Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League semi-final first-leg draw with Real Madrid, adamant they would have been deserved winners had they shown more "composure and precision".

Chelsea took the lead in Madrid thanks to Christian Pulisic's fine individual work in the 14th minute, though they should have already been in front.

Just a few moments earlier, Timo Werner latched on to a Pulisic header across goal but shot at Thibaut Courtois from close range when he seemed destined to score.

The German also missed a decent chance late in the first half, with Karim Benzema having equalised in the interim period.

But that Benzema strike was Madrid's only shot on target, the first time since at least 2003-04 that Los Blancos have had so few in a home Champions League match.

Madrid have progressed from their two previous Champions League knockout ties with English opposition when drawing the first leg at home, though, and Tuchel rued his side's inability to finish them off at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

"We started very well, very aggressive with courage and quality. We deserved to win the first half," he told BT Sport. "We had lots of chances and half-chances where we missed precision with the last ball.

"Unfortunately they scored from a set piece – nothing else normally for us to defend, we didn't allow any chances – so it was a disappointing result at half-time.

"It was important that we stayed calm, didn't lose confidence and we fought back into the game.

"I felt the second half was a tactical game and the speed and intensity dropped. You could feel that we were a bit tired with only two days between two away games. We suffered today from that.

"If we had one more day to recover we would have had a big chance to keep the intensity up and maybe hurt Madrid also in the second half. This was not possible and we have to live with 1-1."

Tuchel felt their initial one-goal lead was more than justified and reiterated his opinion Madrid were fortunate to be level at the interval.

The German, who is the only Champions League coach to face Madrid five times without losing, then allowed a little frustration at his team's finishing to come to light.

"It was well deserved [Pulisic's goal] and, like I said, we should have won the first half," he continued.

"We should have scored a minimum one more goal. The chances were there, the half-chances were there, we had many ball wins, good control, good attacks. We were very confident, looked very strong.

"The goal came more or less out of nothing but that can always happen when you are faced with individual quality from Real Madrid.

"A bit more composure and precision in front of goal and we could have won the first half and been a deserved winner. It's not like this, so we live with 1-1 and try to win the next game."

The two teams meet again at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, with Tuchel aiming to reach a second successive Champions League final having lost in last season's showpiece with Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta rued missed chances in the first leg of their 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw against Real Madrid.

Thomas Tuchel's men dominated the opening exchanges at Valdebebas, with Christian Pulisic's splendidly taken goal giving them a 14th-minute lead.

But the Premier League side arguably let the 13-time European champions off the hook, with Timo Werner once again the chief culprit when it came to being wasteful in front of goal.

Karim Benzema gave the Germany international and his Chelsea team-mates a lesson in clinical finishing when he swivelled to volley a stunning equaliser against the run of play before the half hour. That remained Madrid's only attempt on target over the course of the 90 minutes.

"I think we started really well in the first 20 or 25 minutes. We got the goal and could have got more goals," Azpilicueta told BT Sport.

"They came back from a set play. After that, some moments we controlled and others we suffered.

"It is just the first half, we knew against Real Madrid it would be tough.

"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 little last pass where we could choose the best option.

"I think in the overall analysis we performed well."

Pulisic was electrifying during the opening exchanges and Azpilicueta marvelled at the 22-year-old's coolness under pressure after he rounded Thibaut Courtois and lined up an unerring finish as Madrid defenders scampered back towards their own goal line.

"It was a great finish, great composure. When he was in front of the goal he took the best decision," he added.

"With and without the ball he makes difficult runs to defend.

"He is a young player, growing and improving. I'm very pleased with his goal. He is a very important player for the team."

Although Benzema's athleticism and clever movement caught the eye, Azpilicueta was frustrated to see Casemiro and Eder Militao win headers in the Chelsea box to make the equaliser possible.

"It was a set play, they win two headers in the box," he lamented.

"He scored a great goal, he is a very good striker.

"He dropped, he got the ball for the goal. We have to be aware. Wednesday is a decisive game and we have to be ready for it."

Worried about football's global appeal to the younger generation? Fearful the Champions League has lost its lustre beyond the core of 'legacy' (urgh!) fans in its traditional markets?

Perhaps what you need is a dazzlingly skilful 22-year-old becoming the first player from the United States to score in the semi-finals of Europe's top competition, while generally wreaking havoc every time he has the ball.

Florentino Perez must have loved Christian Pulisic taking his Real Madrid apart. The Chelsea forward made the 13-time winners of the competition Perez sought to torpedo last week look more non-league than Super League.

Pulisic was at the heart of an utterly dominant opening for Chelsea – themselves foolhardy signatories to the not-so-brave new world last week – nodding down for his beleaguered attacking colleague Timo Werner to volley too close to Thibaut Courtois between the Madrid posts.

Shortly afterwards, Pulisic took matters into his own hands, darting across a static Los Blancos backline to collect Antonio Rudiger's raking pass. His first touch was poor, but everything else from that point was perfection.

Madrid's defenders scattered and then cowered towards their goalmouth. Werner found himself demoted from strike partner to spectator at The Christian Pulisic Show. The American rounded Courtois and took aim high into the net.

Just after that, Nacho should have been booked for bringing down the goalscorer, with Eder Militao having also escaped censure for clobbering through the same player. Pulisic was everywhere.

If Perez was worried about addled young minds missing all this, no problem. It all happened inside the first 15 minutes. Plenty of time to watch, absorb, enjoy and then stick Fortnite on.

Amid his compilation of violent brain vomits last week, Perez suggested football matches should be shorter to appeal to fans more than 50 years his junior – a demographic with whom he appears to feel he is completely in tune.

Of course, it's an awful idea. And it is hard to think of many teams who would suffer more in a world of fast food football than the aging Real Madrid team he no longer has the bank balance to reupholster.

Zinedine Zidane opted to match Chelsea's shape, only to find a reinforced five-man backline somehow riddled with holes as Pulisic and Werner made merry early on.

Much is made of the esteemed midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric having a combined age of 95. As N'Golo Kante jackhammered around them, each one of them looked about 95.

Collectively, they needed 20 minutes or so to click into gear. Even then, they negotiated the rain-lashed terrain of Valdebebas tentatively.

The one exception was Karim Benzema, Madrid's talismanic centre-forward who nodded and licked his lips with menace during the pre-game anthem, before basically playing Chelsea on his own for a good while.

At a time when Madrid's superstars have moved on from either the club or their peak playing days, Benzema stands tall week after week.

Against the run of play, he had his 71st Champions League goal, drawing level with Madrid great Raul in fourth on the all-time list. Inside a crowded penalty area, he controlled the ball with his forehead before swivelling to detonate an unstoppable volley.

Benzema's goal was one that beautifully combined the cerebral and the visceral and would have been at home in any of Madrid's previous great eras in this competition, eras that are connected to the present by such moments of brilliance.

Goals like Benzema's shimmer brighter through their link to past context. A great Real Madrid goal in a European Cup semi-final really means something.

From that moment, Chelsea's more nimble operators became engaged in an arm wrestle that was more to Madrid's liking. Even when Thomas Tuchel introduced Kai Havertz, Reece James and Hakim Ziyech in a triple change after the hour, the hosts remained upright on weary limbs.

Having seen his team be so inept in the initial exchanges, Zidane was able to play with Chelsea's tensions and emotions by sending on Eden Hazard.

It remained 1-1, a result most teams would be delighted to take into a home second leg. But Madrid do funny things in this tournament. They defy logic to find reserves that should have long run dry. They are propelled by purpose and history.

Above all the others, simply wanting to take his team away from the Champions League might have been Florentino Perez's most stupid idea of all.

Karim Benzema spared Real Madrid but Christian Pulisic's away goal gives Chelsea the advantage after their Champions League semi-final first leg ended 1-1 at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Zinedine Zidane's side were guilty of a sluggish start in Valdebebas and, although they managed to restore parity, rarely did Los Blancos look likely to take a win to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were good value for their 14th-minute lead as Pulisic added the finish to fine individual work, though Benzema – arguably Madrid's only threatening player in the match – netted to draw level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in the Champions League with 71.

A significantly cagier second period followed and Madrid were even less of a danger to Edouard Mendy's goal, while Chelsea largely seemed content to settle for their away-goal advantage.

Madrid looked to be in for a long night amid a rocky start that almost saw them fall behind after just 10 minutes, as Timo Werner inexplicably shot straight at Thibaut Courtois from close range.

The visitors did not have to wait much longer for another chance, however, and Pulisic took full advantage as he raced on to Antonio Rudiger's long pass, coolly evaded Courtois and then shot between two defenders on the line.

But a few moments after hitting the post from distance, Benzema brought Madrid level in the 29th minute with an emphatic volley roughly six yards from goal following a lovely first touch with his head.

The tempo of the match changed considerably in the second period, however, with neither side much of a threat to the opposing goal.

A triple change by Chelsea just past the hour seemed to increase their control over Madrid, who themselves brought on former Stamford Bridge favourite Eden Hazard.

The final chance fell to Madrid in the 89th minute but Varane's deflected header went just wide, meaning Zidane's men will need to score in London next week.

Christian Pulisic says Chelsea are "moving on" without former talisman Eden Hazard and insists he is "not trying to be like" the Real Madrid winger ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash.

Hazard left Stamford Bridge at the end of the 2018-19 season as Pulisic arrived, having agreed a move from Borussia Dortmund in January 2019.

Madrid paid a club-record €100million fee to sign Hazard, who won six major honours in seven years with Chelsea, including the Premier League twice and the Europa League twice.

The Belgium international scored 110 goals and provided 81 assists in all competitions for the Premier League side but has struggled to make the same impact in Spain, dogged by injury woes.

Hazard has just four goals and five assists in 37 games in Madrid colours, although he has been involved in a goal every 165 minutes this season, a vast improvement on one every 309 minutes in 2019-20.

Chelsea have not been serious title contenders in either season since Hazard's departure but will now hope to dump their fit-again former superstar out of the Champions League.

Pulisic, wearing Hazard's number 10 shirt and playing a similar role, has predictably been measured against the 30-year-old.

A strong end to 2019-20 saw Pulisic finish with nine Premier League goals, scoring 0.47 times per 90 minutes, comparable to Hazard's rate of 0.49 when he netted 16 times in his final campaign in England.

Pulisic has found life a little more difficult this season, providing four goals (0.26 per 90), but he is determined to forge his own legacy.

"[Hazard] was an incredible player at this football club, of course," Pulisic told reporters. "It's someone that I've definitely looked up to.

"I'm not comparing myself to him in any way or trying to be like him, I'm my own player and I'm doing my best for this club.

"Obviously I can say he was a massive player for this club so it's an honour to hear comparisons like that, but I still have a ways to go.

"He was an incredible player - he did a lot for this football club - and obviously we're moving on without him.

"I never played with him, so I only know how it is without him, but I think we're in a good place now, in the semi-final of the Champions League with a lot left to play for this season.

"I think this team definitely has a good situation at the moment. It's looking positive."

Like Hazard, Pulisic has had fitness issues, limiting his involvement.

"I feel very confident in my body and my fitness level at the moment," he said. "I've played a string of games. I've never thought of myself as a player who's injury-prone or anything.

"Obviously I've had a tough time the past year and a bit, but really it's about taking care of my body and putting myself in the best position to be available for every single game. I feel good about that."

One such problem - a hamstring blow in last season's FA Cup final - kept Pulisic out of the second leg of a 7-1 aggregate Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Chelsea are hoping this year's campaign ends in more satisfactory fashion.

"I think the guys definitely gained from that, taking that experience from last season, being able to play in the Champions League - a lot of the guys for the first time," Pulisic said.

"The next season you feel more prepared, a bit more confident, and ready to go for this year's competition.

"I think that experience does help and I'm hoping we can take it into the game tomorrow."

Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson each scored doubles after Thiago Silva was sent off as West Brom secured a stunning 5-2 Premier League win at Chelsea.

The Blues were unbeaten in 14 games under head coach Thomas Tuchel and had not conceded a goal in seven matches, but they suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the second-bottom Baggies at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Christian Pulisic put Chelsea in front, but Silva was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence only 29 minutes into his return from injury.

The clinical Pereira then struck twice in first-half stoppage time and things went from bad to worse for Chelsea after the break, with Robinson and Mbaye Diagne giving Albion a three-goal advantage.

Mason Mount pulled one back, but Robinson applied the finishing touches in injury time as the brilliant Baggies secured a first away league victory over the London club since 1978 to raise hopes they can pull off an unlikely great escape.

Albion started brightly, but Chelsea were in front after 27 minutes, when the alert Pulisic finished from close range after Marcos Alonso's free-kick came back off the post.

West Brom's chances of mounting a fightback were given a major boost just a couple of minutes later, with Silva picking up a second yellow card for catching Okay Yokuslu as he attempted to block the midfielder's shot from just outside the penalty area.

Branislav Ivanovic, who replaced the injured Dara O'Shea, was on the field for only 14 minutes against his former club before he did damage while sprinting to thwart Timo Werner.

The Baggies were deservedly level two minutes into time added on at the end of the first half, Pereira lobbing Edouard Mendy with his left foot after Sam Johnstone's clearance sailed over a static Chelsea defence.

Matt Phillips struck the crossbar with a measured left-foot strike but Pereira capitalised on more poor Blues defending just before the break, tucking a clinical left-foot finish inside the near post to give Albion a shock lead.

Tuchel replaced Pulisic with Mount at the interval and Semi Ajayi prevented Chelsea from equalising by diverting Alonso's scuffed shot against the post.

Pereira was denied a hat-trick by the legs of Mendy as Albion continued to cause the Blues all sorts of problems and they had a two-goal cushion courtesy of a stunning Robinson strike after 63 minutes.

Darnell Furlong was the architect, delivering an inviting cross from the right and Robinson beat Mendy with a magnificent volley as he burst into the box at speed.

Sam Allardyce's men were cutting Chelsea to pieces and Diagne finished off another devastating counter-attack before Werner set Mount up for a tap-in a few minutes later.

Robinson added insult to injury in stoppage time, dinking over Mendy with a clever finish as Albion sensationally secured only a fourth win of the season in the top flight.

The United States sealed a fifth consecutive win in all competitions as goals from Giovanni Reyna and Christian Pulisic secured a 2-1 friendly win over Northern Ireland. 

In the first-ever meeting between the two nations, USA went ahead after 30 minutes when Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reyna sent a deflected effort past Conor Hazard. 

That was Reyna's second goal in four appearances for his country, with his strike making him the youngest player to score an away goal for USA (18 years and 135 days) since Pulisic against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in September 2016 (17 years and 350 days).

Pulisic doubled the visitors' advantage in the 59th minute, stroking home from the penalty spot after he had been brought down inside the area by Daniel Ballard. That was the Chelsea man's eighth goal involvement in his last 10 appearances for his country (five goals, three assists). 

Substitute Niall McGinn pulled one back for Northern Ireland in the 88th minute but it proved too little, too late for Ian Baraclough's side, who are winless in their last 12 matches across all competitions.

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