Real Madrid beat Manchester City in splashy retort to reach the Champions League final
Real Madrid stunned Manchester City 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday, setting up a clash with Liverpool in the final. Karim Benzema struck an extra-time penalty for Real Madrid.
Riyad Mahrez put City 1-0 up and 5-3 up on aggregate, but Rodrygo, on as a substitute, struck an incredible late double to send the tie to extra time. His goals in the 90th and 91st minutes sent the tie to extra time.
Real Madrid hit the knock-out blow with Benzema earning and then converting a penalty kick to clinch a 6-5 win on aggregate, adding to the club’s long series of great European nights.
“It’s the greatness of this club,” said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti. “It’s a club that doesn’t allow you to give up even if it seems everything is over. It gives you the strength to keep going, to fight, to believe.”
Ancelotti says his players were inspired by a film showcasing eight of Real Madrid’s comebacks this season before the game.
“At the end it said ‘There’s one more left’ and we have achieved it,” Ancelotti said, after becoming the first coach to reach five Champions League finals.
Madrid had already pulled off the most unlikely comebacks by defeating PSG in the last 16 and Chelsea in the quarter-finals.
City, like PSG and Chelsea before them, will be perplexed as to how they lost a game they largely controlled, and coach Pep Guardiola will face more pressure as he goes another year without bringing City to the European triumph they crave.
“It’s tough for us, I can’t deny that,” said Guardiola. “We were so close.”
City’s collapse would have been almost inexplicable if they hadn’t been playing Real Madrid, who have advanced to their 17th final. They are one win away from winning their 14th European Cup after defeating Liverpool.
“Another magic night from the kings of Europe,” read a banner hung over one end of the stand before kick-off, but this encounter failed to live up to the seven-goal thriller at the Etihad Stadium last week for the majority of normal time.
Early on, Real Madrid were the more proactive, with Benzema being afforded a couple of difficult chances that he missed.
In the interim, Luka Modric and Rodri argued following a Casemiro challenge, and City stepped forward, pressuring Madrid into mistakes. Kevin De Bruyne hit Thibaut Courtois from afar, forcing the goalkeeper to make a superb reflex save from Bernardo Silva.
Before the break, Real Madrid survived and then improved, with Modric causing a cry of delight when he outsprinted De Bruyne to cut off a counterattack.
Dani Carvajal got space down the right flank seconds after the restart, but Vinicius Junior fired wide at the back post.
City’s right-back has been injured. When the game regained its rhythm, the visitors struck, with Ilkay Gundogan’s pass cutting through Madrid’s midfield and finding Silva, who danced to the outside of the box.
Silva attempted to shoot but instead passed the ball to Mahrez, who hammered it past Courtois hard and early.
Modric left, and part of Madrid’s faith seemed to leave with him.
City could have made it two through substitute Jack Grealish, but Ferland Mendy cleared off the line before another Grealish attempt flew past the post.
It seemed insignificant because Madrid appeared to be dead and buried, but they found a way back out of nowhere.
When Benzema cushioned a ball perfectly across for Rodrygo to flutter in at the near post in the 90th minute, the goal was barely overshadowed by the stadium announcer’s announcement that there would be six minutes of added time.
Madrid only required one goal, as Carvajal sent a ball into the area, where Rodrygo headed in.
When play resumed, Madrid came out on top, and four minutes later, they had a penalty, with Benzema collapsing over Ruben Dias’ exhausted, lunging leg before rolling the spot-kick into the corner, disregarding City’s attempts at distraction.
When Courtois parried Fernandinho’s shot at the back post, City surged forward. City’s final chance fell flat when Dias’ late flick into the box landed harmlessly in Courtois’ hands.