Review and Player Ratings from manic Madrid first-leg win – Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid
Manchester City came out victorious against Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi-final tie after a Champions League classic saw the current league leaders in England and Spain share seven goals at the Etihad, with the hosts leading 4-3 ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola made 4 changes to the side that thrashed Watford at the weekend. A recovered John Stones joined the lineup, along with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva. Gabriel Jesus retained his spot after his 4 goals and an assist powered the Blues past Watford just days ago.
City started hot, taking the ball off Madrid in the final third. Mahrez with his signature dribble inside, curled a beautiful cross in as Kevin De Bruyne ghosted in behind Dani Carvajal, heading the ball past former Chelsea keeper and Belgium teammate Thibaut Courtois to put the Blues up 1-0 in the 2nd minute.
City and Madrid traded possession until Phil Foden put pressure on the visitors down the left. He found De Bruyne, who played a peach of a ball into Jesus. David Alaba erred, allowing the Brazilian to turn and slot it past Courtois – making it 2-0 inside 10 minutes.
City broke again through Mahrez, who was two on one with Foden in support. However, rather wastefully, the winger lashed a shot off the side netting. No more than three minutes later, the Algerian played a lovely ball down the right to Jesus, who squared it to De Bruyne in midfield. The Belgian laced a beautiful, inch-perfect pass to Foden, who was on goal. Unfortunately, his touch slightly let him down and his shot went just wide of the post.
In the 33rd minute, Karim Benzema got one back for Los Blancos. A cross in from the left wing to the Frenchman, who boxed out Oleksandr Zinchenko and bounced one past Ederson into the bottom right corner.
City's woes were compounded when Stones exited the match, seemingly unable to carry on. Fernandinho replaced him at right-back.
The first half ended 2-1, with the Cityzens creating enough chances to kill off the match, but unable to finish them. The scoreline favoured the Blues, but the half was ultimately filled with regret as they should have been out of sight.
In the second half, Mahrez sprung through the Madrid backline and found himself one on one with the keeper. He beat Courtois but not the post, as the rebound fell to Foden – who had his follow up shot blocked on the line by Carvajal. City anguish again as they should have been up by more than one goal.
City did finally find a third through the young England international. Fernandinho's overlapping run from right back paid off, as his cross found the 21-year-old for an easy header.
Once again, unfortunately for the Blues, Madrid got the goal back almost instantly. Vinicius Jr spun Fernandinho on the half turn at the centre of the pitch and ran past the City defence – slotting it past Ederson. A rollercoaster of emotions for all involved.
The tide had turned. Madrid were on the front foot, with City looking shell shocked. Los Blancos turned the screw, forcing a few nervy moments out of the City defence. They would ultimately regain some control, however.
City got their 4th through a Bernardo Silva screamer. Zinchenko was fouled by a nasty tackle, but match referee Istvan Kovacs smartly played advantage as the Portuguese picked up the ball and lashed it past the near post – leaving Courtois rooted to the spot.
The match took another wild turn not long after. A free kick was awarded to Real, which when played in, Aymeric Laporte headed inadvertently onto his arm – giving away the spot-kick. Benzema stepped up and nonchalantly chipped it down the middle for 4-3.
Believe it or not, the match would end 4-3 after a few pitch invaders were removed. City, although scoring four and winning, will feel disappointed to have not killed off the tie in what could've been a seven-goal performance from Guardiola's boys themselves. Nevertheless, the Blues gave a good account of themselves against the 13-time European champions and will have positives to take into the second leg as they look to advance to their second Champions League final.
Ederson - 7
Stones - 7.5
Dias - 6
Laporte - 6
Zinchenko - 8
Rodri - 8
Bernardo - 8
De Bruyne - 9
Mahrez - 7
Jesus - 7
Foden - 7
Subs: Fernandinho - 6, Sterling - N/A
Written by: @Ba5que
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