• Dillon Meehan

Review and Player Ratings from Bernabeu bedlam – Real Madrid 3-1 (6-5) Manchester City

Manchester City were by far the best team on the pitch after 210 minutes – but once again, just a few moments of brilliance have sent the Blues home in the Champions League.

 

Despite having a tendency for surprise lineups in the biggest moments, Pep Guardiola played the same midfield and forward line as the first leg at the Etihad. Kyle Walker returned to the lineup after missing the first clash with an ankle injury and Joao Cancelo also returned from his suspension.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid also made a few changes compared to the first leg. Nacho replaced the injured David Alaba, and Casemiro returned from fitness issues to replace Rodrygo.

 

Real Madrid started the match off strong with an effective high press, preventing City from building out from the back. In the fourth minute, Karim Benzema had a golden opportunity to equalise on aggregate; the Frenchman found himself with a few yards of space but his header was slightly mistimed and flew over the crossbar.

In the eleventh minute, Benzema had a second opportunity to tie the game after receiving a cross from Federico Valverde but once again launched the shot over the bar. It was reminiscent of Benzema’s opening goal in the first leg from a half chance.

After the opening moments, City were able to withstand the press and attempt to take control of the match but struggled, in general, to find consistent rhythm throughout the entire game.

City’s best chance of the opening half came in the 19th minute when Bernardo had a half volleyed chance parried away by Thibaut Courtois. The shot from the edge of the six-yard-box was set up by Kevin De Bruyne.


There were some peculiar decision making by Daniele Orsato throughout the entire first half. It started in the ninth minute when Casemiro took De Bruyne down from behind with a cynical challenge. The referee opted for only a free kick, and Luka Modric and Aymeric Laporte were issued yellow cards for a shoving match after the initial foul. That wasn’t the only time Casemiro avoided a card, twenty minutes later the Brazilian dragged Phil Foden down by his shirt in midfield to prevent a counter attack. Once again Casemiro was let off the hook without a warning.

The first half ended on a whimper, both team had a few chances but failed to capitalise. Los Blancos ended the first 45 with five shots – zero on target, while City had six shots, with four on target.

]The opening moments of the second half were a sign of things to come. Real Madrid had another golden when Valverde’s cross found Vinicius Jr with an open net – but his near post effort was poor and couldn’t even hit the side netting. It was yet another opportunity spurned by Madrid.

The majority of the second half was uneventful. Real Madrid found success at attempting to play long balls in behind the City defence and attempted to force a foot race out of Vinicius and Walker as much as possible. However, after the third or fourth attempt, it proved to be too much for the Englishman and he was forced to come off for Oleksandr Zinchenko after repeated treatments.

Just seconds after coming on, both Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan linked up to break the Madrid press and send Bernardo free on goal. The Portuguese dribbled from midfield to the 18-yard box before finding Riyad Mahrez on the right wing. The Algerian elected to go near post instead of curling it across goal and wrong-footed Courtois. It was an excellent finish to give City a two-goal aggregate lead and what looked like a guaranteed victory.

Photo courtesy of PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

But Real Madrid had other ideas.


Before the chaos of the closing moments of regulation time, Jack Grealish had two prime opportunities to kill the game off. In the 85th minute, after a blistering run, Grealish dribbled past Courtois and slid his shot towards goal but it was saved on the goal line by Ferland Mendy. Seconds later, the England international had a second opportunity saved by Courtois’ studs and sent wide for a corner.

And it was those moments that allowed Real Madrid to claw back into the game. After a flurry of defensive substitutions, City were unable to hold possession and allowed the Spanish champions to have sustained pressure.

In the 89th minute, Eduardo Camavinga launched a ball over the top of the City defence that was volleyed down by Benzema into the six-yard box. Rodrygo toed it into the box to make it 4-5 on aggregate.

Photo courtesy of Angel Martinez/Getty Images

However, Real Madrid were not done there. Just over a minute later, Dani Carvajal’s cross found Rodrygo from just outside the penalty spot and his header flew past a rooted Ederson to give Madrid a 2-1 lead on the night and bring them level 5-5 on aggregate.


Heading in to extra time, it was becoming apparent that the game was only going to go one way, and Real Madrid did not have to wait long. Just three minutes into extra time, Ruben Dias erred in diving in on Benzema, who had his back away from the goal. Dias mistimed the tackle and took the France international down in the box for a clear penalty.

While this time it wasn’t a panenka, it was a well taken penalty that sent Ederson the wrong way. The 34-year-old’s effort hit the inside of the side netting and his goal solidified Real Madrid’s first ever comeback in a Champions League semi-final tie after losing the first leg. Real Madrid 6-5 Manchester City.

City had one opportunity to tie the game came in the 106th minute. Courtois was forced to make a diving save from a header by Foden. The rebound bounced away and Fernandinho attempted to volley it in from an incredibly tight angle but wasn’t able to get enough on the ball.

The second half of extra time was an incredibly slow passage of play devoid of any true attempt at possession. The disjointed shape of the team was unable to find any way to break down Madrid’s defence and the game played out to a slow, middling end.

Real Madrid will play Liverpool in the Champions League final in Paris on the 28th of May.

Photo courtesy of Michael Regan/Getty Images
 

Man of the Match


Bernardo Silva will have an excellent performance be forgotten about due to the chaos that was the end of regulation time. Constantly breaking apart the Madrid press, and setting up Mahrez for his goal. The lone bright star on a dreary Wednesday night.

Photo courtesy of David Ramos/Getty Images

Player Ratings


Ederson - 6: His shot stopping, or lack thereof, has been questionable as of late.


Walker - 8: Great performance despite only being able to play two thirds of the game.


Dias - 7: Had one lapse in judgment that led to the penalty.


Laporte - 7: Decent performance. Perhaps could have possibly been better for the second goal.


Cancelo - 8: Was one of the few players able to create anything in the final third. Almost had a goal and created the lone chance in extra time.


Rodri - 8: Solid performance. Has really regained his form as of late. Shame he wasn’t able to see that performance earn City a win.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Bernardo - 9: The cog of this team. Was incredibly press resistant, constantly recycled possession and provided the assist for Mahrez’s goal.


De Bruyne - 7: Rare off game, looked exhausted at times despite being rested at the weekend.

Mahrez - 7: A lovely finish that looked like it would surely secure the victory. But the goal saved an otherwise sloppy performance.


Foden - 8: One of the few players who looked like he was ready to make a difference.


Jesus - 6: Didn’t make much of an impact and was mostly invisible for the match. Was better when played out on the left.

SUBS:


Grealish - 8: Solid cameo performance, had one goal saved off the line, and a second saved by the tip of a boot. Maybe a sign of things to come next season.

Photo courtesy of JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Gundogan - 6: An okay performance. Was involved in the buildup for the goal – but couldn’t help build possession while on the pitch for the closing moments of the half or extra time. Doesn’t appear to be in the same form as last season.


Fernandinho - 7: In what might be his last Champions League appearance, the Brazilian was solid. Likely would’ve been able to tap in the equaliser in his younger years.


Zinchenko - 7: Everything you can expect out of a substitute appearance, was defensively sound and calm in possession.


Sterling - 6: Looked slow and almost out of place at times, but that was also most of Manchester City in extra time.

 

Written by: @IVIeehan


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