The meeting between Manchester City and Real Madrid in the Champions League is becoming a common occurrence. This is the third time these two clubs have met in the semifinal stage of the UEFA Champions League. Those were in the 2015/16 competition and last season’s. Real Madrid advanced in both. However, Manchester City bested Real Madrid in the 2019/20 round of 16 en route to its only appearance in a Champions League Final.
This time, though, Manchester City was the clear favorite. Of course, that is hard to say with Real Madrid in the Champions League. The defending champions may be counted out, but they always seem to string something together miraculously. Take last season’s second leg, for example. Real Madrid needed two goals entering stoppage time. Rodrygo scored twice.
This game did not have those fireworks and represented more of a chess match between the two. One team would dominate the ball, then the other would dominate. A pair of sensational goals by two of the game’s great players ensured the latest semifinal between Manchester City and Real Madrid remained a draw in the first leg.
Manchester City and Real Madrid exchange possession in two halves of draw
Traditionally, the home team comes out and dominates in possession early doors. Granted, this Manchester City squad is no regular team. Pep Guardiola’s side held seemingly all of the ball for the first 30 minutes. On a couple of occasions, that ball retention led to some shots toward Thibaut Courtois. Generally speaking, though, they were all straightforward saves for the Belgian.
Real Madrid got more comfortable in the game, putting together the best chance. A loose touch from Rodri allowed Vinícius Júnior to pounce. The Brazilian slotted a ball across the face of Ederson’s goal. With Karim Benzema waiting alone on the back post, only the right foot of Ruben Dias denied a sure goal.
The cracks were there, and it took a moment of brilliance from Vinícius. Eduardo Camavinga put together sensational work down Real Madrid’s left side, eventually giving the ball to the Brazilian. Vinícius lashed a shot with his right foot across a helpless Ederson. Real Madrid nabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half with its first shot of the contest.
Kevin de Bruyne equalizes with a bullet
Erling Haaland may have been the favorite to score for Manchester City. However, it was Manchester City’s talisman in the middle, Kevin de Bruyne, to get City back on level terms. In many ways, the goal resembled that of Real Madrid’s in the first 45. In fact, it was almost the same spot where let his shot go.
Ilkay Gundogan laid a simple ball back to de Bruyne, who pounded the ball no more than two feet off the ground. Yet, it was struck so well, that it rose into the net. It was a classic de Bruyne goal, who has now scored in the UEFA Champions League semifinals in each of the last three seasons.
The last great chance of the game fell to Aurélien Tchouaméni. The Frenchman’s moving shot in the 90th minute required a strong hand from Ederson. That save sent the tie back to Manchester all square.
Expect similar fireworks when the two meet on May 17 in the second leg.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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