After one of the biggest encounters in the Champions League semi-final, Manchester City will take a 4-3 lead in their second leg against Real Madrid after an extraordinary encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday (26 April). A breathtaking and relentlessly quick game, full of possibilities, moments of individual brilliance and a smattering of defensive lapses, was a treat for the spectators, but leaves City, who had the better game, the thinnest lead to defend in Santiago. With the Bernabeu next Wednesday.
“It was a great game for both sides. We did many good things. Unfortunately we scored goals and we could not score more. But it’s two games and we have one more in a week,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Liverpool and Villarreal will certainly struggle to match quality Se will struggle to match the quality of the game when they meet in the second semi-final at Anfield on Wednesday. City took the lead after 94 seconds, the fastest goal scored in a Champions League semi-final, with a brilliant diving header from Kevin de Bruyne as Riyad Mahrez scored a piercing run into the Real defence, switched inside and then a killer. given the cross.
Guardiola’s side doubled their lead in the 11th minute through in-form Gabriel Jesus, who scored four goals in the Premier League over the weekend, collecting a pass from De Bruyne and David Alaba before drilling home. Keep walking away. It was the first time 13-time European champions Real have conceded two goals in the Champions League so early and the second was on the cards.
Premier League champions City were on fire, running Spanish league leaders Real Ragged, but both Mahrez and Phil Foden were unable to convert promising opportunities. It was a magic of the game that City could still look back on as a missed opportunity and often Real found a way to get themselves back in a competition that risked running away from them.
The goal came via a familiar source, with Champions League runaway artist Karim Benzema scoring a goalless goal as he passed Ferland Mendy into the far, bottom corner with the most delicate steer after 33 minutes.
Guardiola could be forgiven for thinking how his team’s high-energy, high-quality football led only 2-1 at the break, but the second half followed a similar pattern. City restored a two-goal advantage eight minutes after the restart with the experienced Fernandinho as a substitute for the injured John Stones, taking out Foden with a fully weighted cross, which the England international took at home. nodded.
Two minutes later, however, Fernandinho was caught out as he allowed Brazilian compatriot Vinicius Jr. to overtake him at the touchline. The winger sprinted into deep field from the half-line before poking the ball in front of Ederson to make it 3-2 with an outstanding individual effort.
Once again the city found its way. Real’s defense hesitated after Oleksandr Zinchenko went down the edge of the box, but Bernardo Silva pounced and beat Thibaut Courtois with a brilliant drive into the top corner in the 74th minute.
Man. City 4-3 Real Madrid _
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 26, 2022
There was more play to come as City’s Aymeric Laporte was penalized when the ball hit his hand in the area after seeing his head, and Benzema struck eight minutes into the middle of time with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ chip. Changed the penalty. Still City searched for more but both Raheem Sterling and Ruben Dias were unable to make contact with a dangerous ball across the box and then Dias slipped again and was just inches away from a deep Mahrez cross.
The score was to be 4-3, but for those who wished the game could go ahead and have another 90 minutes to look forward to next week. City, who had yet to be crowned European champions, were left with a strange sense of despair after having ‘only’ beat Real by one goal.
Real’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti had the same mixed feelings as Guardiola after an entertaining night and walked away with some regrets but a hint of optimism in his analysis. “As a football fan, it was a great game of football. As Madrid’s manager, I have to note that we conceded … two goals a long time ago. But we take three goals for the Bernabeu. Now we hope to reach the finals.”