Pulisic ‘didn’t expect to be so free’ for Chelsea UCL goal v Real Madrid

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Christian Pulisic raced behind Raphael Varane to meet Antonio Rudiger’s defense-opening pass, turned toward goal and saw… nothing.

Varane had headed to the goal line, Eder Militao was tracking back at quarter-speed, and Courtois had just started his charge toward the American.

Seconds later, it was 1-0 Chelsea over Real Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal en route to a 1-1 draw between the Blues and their Spanish hosts at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Pulisic was asked where the defenders were?

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch | Three things we learned ]

“That’s almost how I felt,” Pulisic said. “When I turned I didn’t expect to be so free.”

The USMNT star’s fifth Champions League goal is the first for an American in a UCL semifinal, but he’s neither giving himself too much credit nor counting Chelsea’s place in the final.

“The control could’ve been even better but I kinda turned and noticed I was 1v1 with the keeper,” Pulisic said. “I took my time with it. Nice goal. … It’s a proud moment but the job’s nowhere near done.

The goal came moments after Pulisic could’ve had an assist, only to see Thibaut Courtois get a leg to Timo Werner’s snapped shot.

“We were disappointed obviously,” Pulisic said. We need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal and we could’ve put the game away a bit earlier. … It’s a good result. We’re going to take it. We’ll be prepared for next week. We’re not disappointed at all. We’re a positive bunch of guys.”

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta heaped praise on his American teammate.