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Manchester City 0-0 Real Madrid: Citizens withstand late pressure to earn draw

Manchester City FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF is challenged by Vincent Kompany of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo did not dress
  • David Silva forced off with injury
  • Second leg in Madrid on May 4

After a relatively drab opening hour, Manchester City withstood a flurry of late pressure from Real Madrid to earn a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

By keeping a clean sheet, Manchester City can now advance to the final with a win or score-draw in the second leg in Madrid next week.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

The biggest talking point of the match came before a ball was even kicked, as Cristiano Ronaldo was not included in the Real Madrid team. Ronaldo was expected to be fit after nursing a thigh injury, but he was not even on the bench at The Etihad on Tuesday.

The game started a bit cautiously, with much of the play staying in the middle of the pitch as each side got settled in.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Around the half-four mark City began to create a bit more going forward, utilizing their playmakers Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva. However, just as Pellegrini’s men gained some steam, Silva went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Kelechi Iheanacho was called on from the bench, a massive stage for the 19-year-old Nigerian making just his third Champions League appearance.

With the match still 0-0 at the break, Zinedine Zidane brought on Jese for Karim Benzema. Benzema’s fitness had come into question leading up to the match, and the French striker was only able to go 45 minutes, leaving Real without their top two scorers for the second half.

However, Real started to find their game after the break and saw much more of the ball than City. Jese almost found a crucial away goal in the 71st minute on a near perfect header, only to see his ball loop over Joe Hart and bounce back off the crossbar.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

From then on City was under constant pressure, with Hart forced to make a few key stops including a huge kick-save on another well-placed header, this time from Casemiro.

City would hold on for the final minutes, which included another stunning save from Hart on Pepe, as the match ended a scoreless draw. Both sides will be relatively content with the result, as the tie will now be decided at the Bernabeu on May 4.