In 90-minute attacking football, Manchester City beat Real Madrid 4-3 in the Champions League semi-finals. A wild game that felt like countless opportunities, three goals in the first half were beaten by four in the second half, and Los Blancos were a considerable distance away despite qualifying for next week’s second leg match in Madrid next week.
City were clearly the best team with the best chances, and anyone who sees that scene of football should be surprised to see the reality even as they enter the second leg of life. City won the xG battle 2.37-1.48, but as the hosts dominated with five more shots and almost 20% more possessions their chances of being missed will be remembered. With a bit better finish or a real striker (for example, rumored to have signed Borussia Dortmund’s Earling Holland deal), they could have actually surpassed the Spanish team of five or six men.
Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus advanced 2-0 in 11 minutes, while Vinicius Jr. beat Real 3-1 2-2. Benzema did it again, with Real retreating into a delay with the final goal of the match through a penalty kick.
Four different players scored for City, with Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva joining the top two, but Pep Cardiola will not be too happy about the decision. Yes, victory is a win, but in this match City repeatedly advanced towards a multi-goal victory, Real retreated and left to decide everything at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Manchester City will feel with the draw …
Frustrated. It almost feels like they’re drawing because a goal advantage does not feel like they deserve it. They made Real Madrid’s defense fun at times, and the waves of late post-crosses were sure to finish fifth, but nothing came of them. They will be very fond of this tie, but what set a comfortable night’s sleep would be twisted wondering what it would have been like now.
Real Madrid will feel with the draw …
Absolutely excited. They knew they had no job in keeping this close, but along with their big boys Benzema and Vinicius Jr. created stellar goals. Now, security needs to be improved because otherwise, they will be done. But in a match where they were found lifeless in 11 minutes they ended up with 90 minutes of life.
Moment of game change: Colossus of Vinicius Jr.
City Real took a 3-1 lead when Phil Foden scored his worthy goal in the 53rd minute, and the floodgates seemed to open. But then, with Fernando referring to him, Vinicius Jr. scored one of the individual goals of the season. A dummy nutmeg saw him halfway through the goal, finishing better from a tight angle. See:
That goal kept the Real team in it, and gave them confidence in the pace and prevented a 4-1 score that could have been a fatal blow.
Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne
From our James Bang:
Another showpiece is bent to the liking of Die de Bruyne. From his perfect dart to flick on Riyadh Mahrez’s cross, he excelled, displaying the full potential of inch-perfect passes, dynamic runs and strength in duels.
And Peng is right. He was out of this world and was the best player on the pitch, but he knew he had to tuck in some of the balls he delivered. Can he repeat this game in the second leg?
The most selfish moment of the game: Miss Riyadh Mahrez
With City in complete control 2-0, Riyadh Mahrez was sent down right after a comfortable goal by Real Madrid with a goal. He opened up Bill Foden to Cole’s left, but he decided to …
One cannot help but wonder if that will be missed.
The best display of talent: the delicious touch of photon
Words are not needed to describe beauty. Look at the photon settling a ball like a magnet in his lock.
Or was it?
I apologize in advance to our Micah Richards who got caught on camera with incredible skill during the match. Here’s how he reacted to De Bruyne’s opening player eating pasta while watching the game.
It was an incredible time to have that penny pasta in his mouth, and you could argue that it was more enjoyable than the photon. Look, that loan move to Fiorentina is worth it!
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