Man City masterclass: Real Madrid no match for UCL finalists, favorites
Manchester City couldn’t have been any more emphatic as they booked their place in the UEFA Champions League final with a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid (5-1 on aggregate) at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
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Real Madrid weren’t just beaten, but they were simply outclassed in every way as Manchester City turned in an utterly dominant first-half performance for the ages, building a two-goal lead without giving the reigning European champions a whiff of hope.
Manchester City’s first clear-curt scoring chance came — and somehow went — in the 13th minute, with Thibaut Courtois putting on his typical big-game theatrics. Jack Grealish picked out and reached Erling Haaland with a floated cross into the six-yard box, where the big Norwegian headed the ball from close range. Courtois made the initial save purely on reflexes, and David Alaba followed up to both the rebound clear before it trickled over the goal line.
Eight minutes later, Courtois went even bigger with a spectacular save to once again get the better of Haaland. Kevin De Bruyne crossed and Manuel Akanji headed it back into the mixer, where Haaland once again towered over everyone in black to head the ball back across the face of goal, only for Coutrois stop his momentum one way, turn, dive back the other way and push it around the post to keep Los Blancos on level terms.
Manchester City simply never stopped testing and threatening, though, and finally in the 23rd minute, Bernardo Silva broke the deadlock. Kevin De Bruyne picked out Bernardo’s delayed run and played him in with a simple through ball. Courtois rushed out to make himself big, but Bernardo looked far post before firing near post.
After the goal came more Manchester City pressure as they chased a second goal, which they got in the 37th minute. Bernardo was in the right spot at the right time to follow up and clean up the rebound after Ilkay Gundogan slalomed his way through traffic and into the penalty area. At halftime, it was 13 shots to 1, with 1.54 xG to 0.01 xG.
Goal no. 3 came with a quarter-hour left to play, when Eder Militao made a mess of his attempt to clear De Bruyne’s free kick into the penalty area. Julian Alvarez completed the demolition job with a stoppage-time goal to make it a staggering 4-0 scoreline on the night, and 5-1 on aggregate.
Stars of the show - Manchester City vs Real Madrid
The Champions League final, June 10, in Istanbul, Turkey, versus Inter Milan.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid reaction
Jack Grealish, on reaching the Champions League final…
“It is a beautiful night for us. We know it would be tough but to beat this Real Madrid team 4-0 at home was wonderful. Hopefully we will win it.
“We know how tough they are. They pushed us but we were very resiliant, we were passionate but organised at the time.
“My performance in the first game in Madrid was not the one I wanted and I wanted to compensate that. Today I had to do better for my teammates and the fans, and that is what I tried to do.”
Manchester City vs Real Madrid, live score: 4-0 (5-1 agg.)
23rd minute - Bernardo Silva beats Thibaut Courtois to give Man City 1-0 (3-1 agg.) lead
37th minute - Bernardo Silva cleans up rebound to make it 2-0 (3-1 agg.)
76th minute - Eder Militao glances Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick into his own goal
90th minute +1 - Julian Alvarez beats Thibaut Courtois for 4-0 in stoppage time
How to watch Real Madrid vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time
Key storylines & star players
All of the talk is around whether or not City will win the treble and the Premier League is almost sewn up (a home win against Chelsea this Sunday will seal a third-straight title) and they are favorites to win the FA Cup final against Manchester United. So, it comes down to this. Pep had the luxury of resting Kevin de Bruyne at the weekend and Ilkay Gundogan is stepping up masterfully at the business end of the season once again as he’s scored four goals in his last two PL games. Pep Guardiola has joked he “isn’t overthinking” things ahead of a big match once again, while he also insisted he isn’t worried about his legacy if they don’t advance as City are seeming very relaxed ahead of this monster clash. And why not? They’re flying. Defensively City have found a great formula with their 3-2-4-1 and now it is all about getting their best players in the positions where they can hurt Real Madrid the most.
Speaking of Real Madrid, they have had the luxury of resting their stars as they won the Spanish Cup two weeks ago but were a distant second to Barcelona in La Liga this season. Ancelotti saw Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba handle Haaland in the first leg and they will have to have another dominant display, plus the midfielders ahead of them will also have to stop City’s main men purring. That said, Karim Benzena, Rodrygo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Vinicius Jr are all capable of doing plenty of damage of their own.
Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Nathan Ake (thigh)
Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup
DOUBT: Eduardo Camavinga (knee)