Chelsea drew 1-1 with Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League semifinal first leg on Thursday with Pedro grabbing a crucial away goal for the London club on the stroke of halftime.> > > HIGHLIGHTS from all the Europa League games . . .
The draw meant Chelsea set a record of 16 successive matches unbeaten in the Europa League, breaking Atletico Madrid’s mark from 2011-12.
Serbian Luka Jovic put the hosts ahead after 23 minutes, stooping to head past the outstretched Kepa Arrizabalaga off a cross from compatriot Filip Kostic and raising the decibels in a stadium famed for its atmosphere.
The goal was the 21-year-old’s ninth of the competition and 26th this season but Frankfurt failed to press home their advantage, running out of energy in a second half dominated by the visitors.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek blasted just wide in the 42nd minute and fed the ball through the Frankfurt defence to Spanish winger Pedro who hammered in a low left-foot shot.
Chelsea were far livelier after the break, in a reversal of the first 40 minutes, with the hosts having a close escape when David Luiz rattled the crossbar from a 55th minute free kick.
“We were a bit in trouble,” Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said.
“I think the last 15 minutes of the first half we dominated with great chances. We scored the goal before halftime and in the second half I think we had more chances than them.”
Both sides are fourth in their domestic leagues, with the Europa League offering an alternative route to next season’s Champions League.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri left Eden Hazard on the bench until the 62nd minute, preferring to rest the Belgian forward for the important Premier League games against Watford and Leicester City.
The second leg is at Stamford Bridge next Thursday. Reuters