Football UCL

Real Madrid fight back, Manchester City prevail in 7-goal thriller

In a quite wonderful game of almost perpetual, furious, motion, for one split second Real Madrid stopped. And in that brief moment, Bernardo Silva gave Manchester City the slender advantage they deserved, and that may yet steer their progress to a second Champions League final.

Man. City 4-3 Real Madrid 🤯

⏰⚽️0⃣2⃣ De Bruyne
⏰⚽️1⃣1⃣ Jesus
⏰⚽️3⃣3⃣ Benzema
⏰⚽️5⃣3⃣ Foden
⏰⚽️5⃣5⃣ Vinícius Júnior
⏰⚽️7⃣4⃣ Bernardo Silva
⏰⚽️8⃣2⃣ Benzema #UCL

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 26, 2022

Madrid will throw plenty at them at the Bernabeu no doubt about that. They threw plenty at them here. Every time Manchester City thought they had the game won by a handy two goal margin, Madrid reined them in. One goal is nothing when a club has Karim Benzema as their striker. He has averaged a goal a game in 41 across this campaign. Vinicius Junior is a huge threat too.

Yet City scored four and could do the same again in the second leg. They are that sort of side. The four could have been eight had City taken their chances. They were the better team – but couldn’t put Madrid away and there is no reason to imagine anything but the same frenzy in round two next Wednesday.

The final two goals, scored late, summed it up. City thinking they had the job done, Madrid reckoning otherwise. It was like that throughout the game. City led 2-0 which became 2-1; they led 3-1 which became 3-2; they led 4-2 which ended up 4-3. So Madrid trailed for 88 minutes and 27 seconds of this match, and yet are somehow still very much in it.

Kevin De Bruyne just scored the quickest UCL semifinal goal EVER 😨

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 26, 2022

Guardiola’s fury at some of the missed chances was understandable. Particularly in the first half City had the chance to decide this tie and did not take it. If their campaign ends in disappointment those will be the moments the manager most regrets.

So this was 90 minutes of high octane, high energy and high quality – going forward, defensively not so much – but the last two goals both contained elements of good fortune. City’s goal came because Real Madrid did not play to the whistle, Madrid’s because the modern rules on handball have little truck with intention or fairness.

There were 74 minutes gone when Oleksandr Zinchenko was spectacularly upended by Dani Carvajal near the edge of the area. Even Madrid’s players acknowledged the foul and some of them stopped. Not all, though. So there was movement around Bernardo Silva as he took the ball into the area, there were players who realised Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs was playing advantage. Among those at rest, however, was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. So when Silva shot he barely moved. But Kovacs was quite adamant it was a fair goal. City looked to be taking a two-goal lead to the Bernabeu.

Gabriel Jesus vs. Real Madrid:

3️⃣ goals
3️⃣ games


— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 26, 2022

Yet this is City in Europe. Rarely is it easy?

So when Aymeric Laporte rose to head away a standard cross with eight minutes remaining, the ball glanced his head and then an outstretched arm. Penalty said Kovacs. It looked harsh, completely accidental and unavoidable. But those are the modern rules. Benzema took it. Panenka. Goal. What a stage that set for the return. What a prospect it leaves in store.

Of course, we sympathise if Pep Guardiola is not entirely thrilled by the fun. He often cut a manic touchline figure even by his standards, particularly in the first-half when he realised, like most observers, that this tie could have been pretty much over. Manchester City’s two-goal lead after 11 minutes was not just their quickest such advantage in this competition – and the first time Real Madrid had been so rapidly two goals behind – but was accompanied by a series of chances from which Madrid could not have recovered.

Karim Benzema wasn’t even looking at the goal 👀

— GOAL (@goal) April 26, 2022

Better finishing and decision making were required, but it was the latter that left Guardiola most incensed. Ignoring a teammate in a better scoring position is, one imagines, close to a capital offence in Guardiola’s mind. When Riyad Mahrez didn’t look up to spot Phil Foden in the perfect place to score City’s third after 26 minutes, Guardiola’s reaction was as angry as he has ever appeared on the touchline.

Mahrez selfishly took on a difficult angle and shot into the side-netting, Guardiola skipped several paces from his standing spot, his eyes wilder, his muscles and veins tauter with every stride.

Phil Foden has been directly involved in 75 career goals for Man City:

👕 164 games (100 starts)
⚽️ 44 goals
🅰️ 31 assists

What. A. Talent. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿✨

— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 26, 2022

Madrid, frankly, did not know what had hit them in those early exchanges. The intensity with which City – and Liverpool – can start a match is arguably unique in the European game. Madrid couldn’t handle them. In this mood, it is hard to imagine who could.

So there were 93 seconds gone when Kevin De Bruyne gave City the lead, and what a well-taken goal it was. Carlo Ancelotti would have been inwardly seething at the slackness of Madrid’s defending, but that should not detract from the quality of the move. Mahrez cut in from the right, darting between two snoozing Madrid defenders and skirting Luka Modric. Toni Kroos was also slow to close allowing him to whip in a lovely cross. De Bruyne’s run had not been picked up meaning he got the jump on Carvajal, bustling in front of him to divert a stooping, diving header past Courtois.

Vinicius does it on his own 💨

(via @CBSSportsGolazo)

— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 26, 2022

City kept possession, kept the pressure on, the high press rattled Madrid and, from the next attack, they moved further ahead. Foden on the left laid it inside to De Bruyne and, from his cross, the in-form Gabriel Jesus spun a startled David Alaba. Suddenly, he had space and only Courtois to beat but it still took a lovely finish to leave the goalkeeper helpless.

Vinicius are you serious 🥶🥶🥶

— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) April 27, 2022

Just six minutes later Alaba had to hack danger away, facing his own goal and after Mahrez’s aberration, a counter-attack in the 28th minute should have given City the advantage they deserved. Jesus on the right played in De Bruyne through the centre and, unlike Mahrez, he knew where Foden was and where Madrid were not. By the time the ball reached the young man he was in an exclusion zone of space but steered his shot wide of the far post.

A huge miss. Not least because Madrid’s alarm clocks had at last gone off and they were waking up. This is a side that leads La Liga by 15 points. As Chelsea found after taking a three-goal lead at the Bernabeu, once provoked, they are no mugs. Until then, Madrid’s most dangerous player had been City goalkeeper Ederson, whose kicking game was substantially off, but gradually, they got into the game.

Bernardo Silva’s last 3 home games:

🅰️ vs Liverpool
⚽️ vs Brighton
⚽️ vs Real Madrid

What a hit son. 😳

— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 26, 2022

In the 33rd minute when Ferland Mendy delivered a ball into the box, Benzema made City pay for their wastefulness. He got in front of Zinchenko and delivered the sweetest cushioned volley, to a part of the goal Ederson couldn’t reach. It went in off the inside a post, a fine way to celebrate his 600th game for the club. Only Spaniards have reached that milestone previously.

This game has had EVERYTHING. 🤯

Karim Benzema. Panenka penalty. ❄️ #MCIRMA #UCL

— TEAMtalk (@TEAMtalk) April 26, 2022

Incredibly, the second-half delivered more of the same. Just two minutes had passed when Mahrez sped down the right, breaking free of Madrid’s backline and shooting across Courtois, to hit a post. The ball flew out to Foden who struck it first time only for Carvajal to thwart him as it travelled towards an empty net.

From the next attack, however, better luck. Fernandinho broke down the right – he had replaced the injured John Stones at right-back late in the first-half – and crossed for Foden in the middle. Carvajal was nowhere this time and his header restored City’s two-goal advantage: for all of two minutes.

More action down Fernandinho’s side, this time the Brazilian being dummied by his compatriot Vinicius Junior, who hared towards the City goal, electing to finish the job himself. With Benzema around it takes a brave man to do that. But this game wasn’t short of them.

Courtesy: Daily Mail UK