Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid: Match review

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Real Madrid pulled off a heist against Manchester City, defeating the English side on penalties in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final and ensuring qualification to the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.

Starting the game without Aurelién Tchouaméni, who was suspended for this game, Carlo Ancelotti played the best possible lineup with Nacho being Rüdiger’s partner in defence. On the other hand, Pep Guardiola also fielded a strong lineup with Kyle Walker returning from injury and Kevin De Bruyne returning after not playing in the 1st leg.

Real Madrid got off to the best possible start, after Jude Bellingham’s sublime first touch led to Vinícius receiving the ball from Fede Valverde, who squared it to Rodrygo. The 23-year-old almost fluffed the chance as Ederson made a good save, but scored on the rebound to give the away side a lead in the 12th minute.

City was relentless in their attacks from here on and the Madrid defence was as stubborn as it gets. Lunin kept the ball out while the defense cleared any danger that came its way.

Even though the duel between Jack Grealish and Dani Carvajal was a toe-to-toe battle, the Spaniard eventually succumbed and ended up with a yellow card, which will keep him out of the 1st leg of the semi-final.

Los Blancos were the happier side at half-time but they knew the job was not done as Pep’s men would come out all guns blazing in the 2nd half, knowing they were a goal down.

And that’s just what happened as the English side continued to try and penetrate between the lines but were unable to do so as the Madrid backline was up to the mark.

Pep Guardiola brought on Jeremy Doku in the 72nd minute to try and change the game, which the Belgian did. Replacing Grealish, he made some quick runs and it ultimately paid off as Rüdiger was unable to properly clear the ball, which fell into De Bruyne’s feet who easily put the ball in the back of the net and made the score 4-4 on aggregate in the 76th minute.

De Bruyne came close for a second time just a few minutes later as he skied the ball after it was laid down in his path – perhaps a chance that City went on to regret.

Despite the game tilting a bit in the English side’s favor, Carlo did not change his tactics – and rightfully so. Luka Modrić and Brahim Díaz came on in order to breathe some life into this game, replacing Toni Kroos and Rodrygo in the process.

The match ultimately headed to extra time with the score tied. Vinícius had been fairly ineffective as Walker had neutralized his threat and the winger was subbed off for Lucas Vazquez, who entered the pitch to add to the numbers in defense.

With Éder Militão also coming on and just Bellingham and Brahim on the attacking forefront, it was visible that Real Madrid were aiming to take the game to penalties. After employing a lower block for almost the entire game and keeping the City attack at bay, Los Blancos were granted their wish as the match was to be decided on the penalties.

Real Madrid were off to the worst possible start as Luka Modrić’s penalty was saved but in reply, Andriy Lunin saved two penalties in a row – of Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic – to gain the upper hand.

It ultimately came down to Rüdiger, who just had to score to secure a historic victory for the Merengues. The German made no mistake as Madrid won the game and secured a berth in the semi-final of the Champions League.

Andriy Lunin put up yet another masterclass, making as many as 8 saves in this game – just one less than in the game against RB Leipzig. The Ukrainian has made his case and it would be difficult to choose from when Thibaut Courtois returns from injury.

Another notable performance was from Antonio Rüdiger who kept Erling Haaland quiet throughout both legs as the Norwegian completed just a mere 11 passes in both the legs of this tie.

Although the way Madrid won could be criticized but at the end of the day, they showed the character and determination, and lived up to the club’s core value of never giving up.

The European giants finally breached City’s fortress and could not have asked for a better occasion than this. They set up a date with Bayern Munich in the semi-final – and fans across the world will be treated to a ‘European Clasico’ in the next round of the Champions League.

Next up, the men in white take on FC Barcelona at the Bernabeu in the ‘Spanish Clasico’ on Sunday, and a win would fairly settle the league title in their favor.

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