UCL: Man City draw first blood vs Real Madrid but Benzema’s Panenka steals the show


A seven goal thriller at the Etihad is how the first-leg UEFA Champions League semi final match between Manchester City and Real Madrid ended, in what was a breathtaking game.

Manchester City lived up to the pre-match favorite tag, they dictated the game from possession to chances created and goals scored.
Last season’s finalists and one of the outright favorites this term, Pep Guardiola’s men got off the block quick.
They breached Thibaut Courtois’ goal inside the opening two minutes when his Belgian teammate teammate Kevin DeBruyne headed home from a delightful Riyad Mahrez cross.
City’s Man of the moment Gabriel Jesus doubled nine minutes later while the hosts still dominated and looked like it could be a walk in the park against the 13-time champions.
But, Real Madrid weren’t going to roll over and they pushed back forcing the City defence into frantic plays and almost catching the goalkeeper napping.
But that pressing would pay off before the end of the first half as French striker Karim Benzema will jab home from Ferland Mendy’s cross to beat a ball watching Ederson.
The teams returned for the concluding half and got it off on the same pulsating note as they had left in the first half.
Manchester City yet again the first off the block with Phil Foden this time getting his name on the score sheet to restore the two-goal lead.
But, Guardiola had have to deal with replacing John Stones for the veteran Fernandinho at right back. The latter wasn’t giving adequate cover neither and that loophole was exploited by Real Madrid.
Vinicius Jr. Sprinted down the right flank, leaving several City players in his heels as he makes a solo run inside the box before curling the ball into the far corner for Madrid’s second.
The prospect of a comeback was now brewing belief in Carlo Ancelotti’s mind and Los Blancos Manager, who achieved it twice in the knock out stages already, tinkered with his team, effecting a second substitution.
He brought on midfield reinforcement in Eduardo Camavinga for Rodrygo, to keep City at bay while maintaining the team’s ability to press effectively.
However, Man City would snatch a moment that offered up itself while Madrid still struggled to settle into their new shape.
Bernardo Silva picked up a lose ball after DeBruyne was fouled on the edge of the Real Madrid box, the Portuguese played to the whistle while the opposition defenders hesitated; waiting for the Referee’s call.
It didn’t come and Silva unleashed a fine shot, squeezing the ball through a couple of players and Courtois was left rooted as he watched the ball glide in for City’s fourth on the night in the 74th minute.
And yet again, to that question asked, Real Madrid would respond.
They won a penalty and Benzema stepped up, producing a perfect Panenka to reduce to deficit to one goal (82′), for his 14th in the competition this season.
Neither side would score again as the exhilarating game wound to an end.
With the first leg in the bag, however narrow the margin, City will feel a bit confident heading to the Santiago Bernabéu knowing it’s not much of a fortress even if they only need a draw now to progress.


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