MANCHESTER, England – Manchester City will take a 4-3 lead in the second leg of their tie against Real Madrid after a thrilling fight at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday after one of the best fights in the Champions League semi-final.
A breathtaking and relentlessly fast game, full of potential, moments of personal intelligence and a sporadic game of defensive errors was a treat for the spectators but the game with the weakest lead to defend in Santiago was best left to City. Bernabeu next Wednesday.
Liverpool and Villarreal must fight to match the quality of the game if they face another semifinal at Anfield on Wednesday.
City took the lead 94 seconds later, the fastest goal in the Champions League semifinals, after Riyad Mahrez made a perforated run in real defense with a great diving header from Kevin de Bruyne, switched inside and then delivered a killer cross.
Guardiola’s team doubled their lead at 11M In-form Gabriel Jesus, who scored four goals in the Premier League over the weekend, collected a pass from De Bruyne and turned away from David Alaba before the home drill.
This is the first time that 13-time European champions Real have scored two goals so quickly in the Champions League and the other was looking at the card.
Current Premier League champions City were on fire, with Spanish league leaders Real angry, but both Mahrez and Phil Foden failed to turn promising opportunities.
It was a spell in the game that City could still look back as a missed opportunity and often Real found a way to get themselves back in a race with the risk of running away from them.
The goal came through a well-known source, with Champions League escapee Karim Benzema scoring a goal 33 minutes later with a fine steer pointing a Ferland Mendy’s cross into the far, lower corner.
Guardiola can be forgiven for considering how his team’s high-strength, high-quality football was leading 2-1 at the break but had a similar pattern in the second half.
Eight minutes after a resumption with veteran Fernandinho as a substitute for the injured John Stones, City regained the two-goal advantage, picking up Foden with a perfectly weighted cross, which the England internationals bowed at home.
Two minutes later, however, Fernandinho was caught out as he let Brazilian compatriot Vinicius Jr. overtake him on the touchline.
The winger ran deep into the area from the half-line to make the ball 3-2 in an outstanding personal effort, bypassing Ederson.
Even then, the city has found its way again. Real’s defense faltered after Alexander Jinchenko stepped on the edge of the box, but Bernardo Silva pushed Thibaut Courtois to a great 74 in the top corner.M Minutes
City’s Imeric Laporte was punished when the ball hit his arm, there was more drama after looking at his head, and Benzema converted a penalty with a noise “Panenka” chip eight minutes down the line. – Reuters