There were plenty of fireworks in the semifinal first leg between Manchester City and Real Madrid; Wednesday’s second leg is widely expected to be pure chaos.
Man City led throughout the seven-goal, first-leg thriller at the Etihad but was never able to pull away from Real Madrid. At three different points in the first leg, starting with two goals in the first 11 minutes, the defending Premier League champions held a two-goal lead only to see Real cut its deficit in half each time.
Once again, Karim Benzema came to Real’s rescue with a two-goal performance. On each occasion, the French international pulled the Spanish giants back from the brink—once in the 33rd minute and again in the 82nd with an incredibly cold-blooded Panenka penalty while trailing by two goals late.
Man City must now go into the Santiago Bernabéu with a one-goal advantage against a Real side that has already orchestrated epic comebacks against Chelsea and PSG in the Champions League knockout stages.
The winner of the tie will then go on to the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 28 in Paris.
The Bernabéu was rocking from the start, and the home crowd was nearly rewarded in the fifth minute by Benzema. The striker had a clear chance at goal with a header right in front of goal, but his chance soared over the crossbar.
Man City returned with a series of long-range efforts in the first 15 minutes courtesy of Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne, but it was nothing that Thibaut Courtois couldn’t handle.
The start lacked the frenetic energy and disorder of the first leg with neither side able to capitalize on a serious chance. In the 18th minute, Real seemed to have another promising chance in front of goal but Vinícius sent another chance over the bar.
City forced Courtois into a save in the 20th minute when Bernardo Silva’s half-volley came close to extending the English side’s aggregate lead. But the Belgian was there to keep the game scoreless.
While City recorded four shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, Real continued to miss the target. Phil Foden forced Courtois into action once again in the 40th minute with a quick chance right off a long free kick from City’s defensive third, but Courtois remained steady.
Vinícius followed with another chance that seemed to have potential inside the penalty area, but Kyle Walker showed his prowess at right back with a quality stop.
Carlo Ancelotti seemed to have the hosts inspired as Real Madrid came out of the halftime with its best chance of the match so far in the first minute of the second half. Once again, it was Vinícius who had the chance in front of goal, but the Brazilian missed the target.
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It was City that struck that all-important opening goal, waiting until the 73rd minute to break the deadlock. Mahrez struck the blow against Real with a confident strike from his favored left, curling his chance in the top-right corner past a leaning Courtois to give City a 5–3 aggregate lead.
Benzema’s only serious chances came just before being whistled for offside, including in the 81st minute after a shot that sprung City keeper Ederson into a save that ended up being unnecessary.
Jack Grealish nearly added a second on two occasions within a minute in the 87th minute. His first chance was cleared off the line by Dani Carvajal while his second shot on target was thwarted by a brilliant kick save from Courtois that just put enough on the ball to send it out of play.
Rodrygo gave some life Real in the 90th minute when he darted through the box and redirected a pass from Benzema into the back of the net. The goal cut Real’s deficit to just one with stoppage time remaining.
But the second-half substitute wasn’t done yet. Just a minute later, Rodrygo scored the tying goal for Real Madrid to make it 5–5 on aggregate with a header off Carvajal’s cross.
Five minutes into extra time, Real Madrid continued its momentum when Benzema forced a penalty on a poorly timed tackle from Rúben Dias. Benzema stepped to the spot and sent his shot away from a diving Ederson for Real Madrid’s first aggregate lead of the semifinal.
Right on the stroke of the extra time break, Fernandinho seemed to have the perfect opportunity to equalize for City. But after a Courtois save, the Brazilian couldn’t redirect the rebound into the goal despite the clear chance.
Stay tuned here for live updates and highlights of goals and key plays from throughout the match (refresh for most recent updates).
Here are the starting lineups for Wednesday’s semifinal second leg:
Real Madrid XI
Man City XI
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