In a thrilling first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid and Manchester City drew 1-1 thanks to outstanding goals from Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne in each half.
Holders Madrid weathered City’s dominance in the first half of a rerun of last season’s thrilling last-four meeting before Vinicius completed a rapid burst with an unstoppable long-range attempt in the 36th minute.
Midway through the second half, however, the visitors struck back with a spectacular shot of their own to tie the score. De Bruyne beat Thibaut Courtois from outside the area to square the score just as Madrid were poised to widen their lead.
The game came to an end in such manner, leaving the two teams to play it out again on next Wednesday for the chance to go to the final either AC Milan or Inter Milan.
Pep Guardiola’s team will probably be happier to leave the Spanish capital with the score tied heading to Manchester given how last year’s semifinal played out, when Madrid trailed by two goals in the final minute of the second leg at the Bernabeu and somehow rallied to win in extra time.
Particularly after Madrid grabbed control of the game in the second half and threatened to decisively win the match, that will be the case. Madrid, who have won the championship a record 14 times, has demonstrated time and time again in recent years that they should never be written off. Despite losing four straight times at City’s home, they are not likely to worry about the challenge they face there in eight days.
Madrid midfielder Luka Modric remarked, “It was a shame that we conceded that goal. I think we deserved more. They had more possession but didn’t create a lot of chances. It’s still 50-50 and we will go into the second match with confidence.”
On Tuesday, it appeared for a long time that Madrid would win the Champions League in typical fashion.
From the opening exchanges, Man City took command of the match, controlling possession and smothering the hosts with their pressing. Although Antonio Rudiger replaced the suspended Eder Militao in Madrid’s deep-seated defense, City was generally limited to half-chances.
Madrid then took the lead with their lone shot in the opening period. The goal was created by Eduardo Camavinga, who was manning the left back position for the first time. He advanced from deep inside his own half before crossing inside to Vinicius, who took the ball onto his right foot and sent an unstoppable shot past Ederson from around 30 yards away.
Despite having about 70% of the ball at the end of the first half, City’s deficit nearly increased as Madrid pressed forward directly after the break.
With a left-footed drive that just cleared the crossbar against English competition, Karim Benzema came close to scoring his 21st Champions League goal. However, an aggressive penalty demand for a handball against Jack Grealish was denied.
But in contrast to last year, City resisted the push. After Ilkay Gundogan passed the ball to De Bruyne in the 67th minute after Rodri critically intercepted a Camavinga pass deep inside Madrid’s half, the Belgian was given room to line up a wonderfully struck shot past Courtois and bring City level.
Madrid still had an opportunity to take the lead going into the second leg, but Ederson made a one-handed save to prevent Karim Benzema from scoring on a far-post header, extending Man City’s unbeaten streak in all competitions to 21 games.
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