Chelsea hero Cesc Fabregas heaps praise on ‘big game player’ after Real Madrid draw

Chelsea: Tuchel rues lack of composure and precision

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Chelsea hero Cesc Fabregas has hailed N’Golo Kante as a “big game player” following the club’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid last night. The Blues went into the game looking to take control of their Champions League semi-final tie. And a goalless draw in the second leg would see them go through on the away goals rule.

Chelsea took the lead through Christian Pulisic, with the United States international opening the scoring in the 14th minute.

The hosts levelled through Karim Benzema 15 minutes later, however, with the France international continuing to excel following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo nearly three years ago.

Chelsea knocked on the door for a winner, but couldn’t find the net again. However, their away goal means they hold a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Fabregas waxed lyrical about Kante on social media during the match as he heaped praise on the 2018 World Cup winner.

“N’golo has always been a big-game player. Never doubt him. He plays for two,” he said.

Fabregas played alongside Kante during his time at Chelsea.

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He arrived at Stamford Bridge back in the summer transfer window of 2014 and propelled the Blues to Premier League title glory under Jose Mourinho the following year.

More recently Kante had struggled at Stamford Bridge under Frank Lampard, but his form has improved markedly since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel.

He was impressive against Madrid, marshalling the midfield and winning his battle against the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Tuchel felt Chelsea did well on the night, expressing a belief they had enough chances to win the match.

He told BT Sport: ”We started the game very very well, very aggressive with a lot of courage and quality.

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“We deserved to win the first half, we had chances. We had a lot of half chance where we missed precision with the last ball.

“Unfortunately they scored from a set-piece and they had nothing else, we didn’t allow any chances.

“It was a disappointing score at half time. It was important we had to stay calm and not lose confidence and fight back into the game.

“I could feel today it was a very tactical game. The speed, the intensity dropped and you could feel that we are a bit tired.

“We only had two days in between two away games. We suffered a bit from that.

“One more day to recover would have been a chance to keep the intensity up and maybe he hurt Real Madrid. In second half this was not possible and we have to live with 1-1.”

Cesar Azpilicueta was also convinced Chelsea played well on the night.

“I think we started really well,” said the Spain international.

“The first 20-25 minutes we got the goal, I think we could have scored more goals. Then they came back from a set play and even though I think we control we suffered.

“We knew that playing against Real Madrid is going to play tough. It’s just the first half and we have another game next Wednesday.”

He added: “We started with courage. We knew that we had to perform at our best level. We know that playing in the semi-final in the Champions League asks you for your best.

“We started well, pressed well, we recovered the ball lots of times. We got out of the pressure. We just missed that last pass where we could choose the best option. It could have been a different result.

“They came back from the corner and we had to suffer a bit more but I think overall we perform well.”

And he hailed goalscorer Pulisic by saying: “A great finish. Great composure.

“When he was in front of the goal he took the best decision. When he was on the ball, without the ball he makes difficult runs to defend.

“He’s an amazing player, a young player.

“He came here from a different country, he’s growing, improving, new experiences. So yeah I’m very pleased with his goal because he’s a very important player for our team.”

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