History repeats itself. Manchester City will once again face Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Last year’s semi-final was a horror for Pep Guardiola.
Last year’s semi-final had the same participants, but with one significant change. The first leg was played in England and the rematch at the Santiago Bernabéu was one of the keys to Real’s progression. This time, the semi-finals will begin in Madrid.
Real Madrid knocked out PSG and Chelsea last year, in both cases after big turnarounds and also with a good deal of luck. The semi-final against the Citizens seemed already over-scheduled and fans conciliatorily said that not progressing would not be a disappointment.
And in the first game, the Citizens stepped it up big time. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring in the second minute and Gabriel Jesus added a second goal moments later. Real’s defence didn’t know where their heads stood, it looked like a debacle.
Moreover, the Citizens kept playing and preparing more chances. But in the 33rd minute, Real pulled one back when Mendy’s centre was headed into the net by Benzema. The half-time score of 1: 2 was not so scary for the visitors.
But Guardiola’s team took back a two-goal lead when Phil Foden scored with a header in the 53rd minute after a series of chances. Even that didn’t last long, though, because just two minutes later, Vinícius toyed with Fernandinho in the middle of the pitch, ran at goal himself and scored.
But the Citizens put their foot on the gas again, culminating in a wonderful goal in the 74th minute by Bernardo Silva into the net. A 4-2 lead gave the home side great composure. But in the 82nd minute, the ball fell on Laporte’s hand in the whitewash and Real were awarded a penalty. Benzema took the chance and with a panenka long-range strike, he gave hope for a rematch.
Replay at the Bernabéu
Real had a sharp start at the Santiago Bernabéu and in the first ten minutes Benzema had a great chance, which he didn’t convert. The rest of the game was not as entertaining as the first leg, with the Citizens focusing on solid defending rather than overwhelming attack, and Real didn’t play the bait either.
But then came the 73rd minute and disaster for Real. Riyad Mahrez finished off the visitors’ break and Citizens were already two goals up.
This state of affairs lasted until the 90th minute, the bookmakers at that moment were giving Real Madrid a 1% chance of advancing. Perhaps even the most optimistic Madrid fans didn’t believe that they could turn it around.
But in the 90th minute, Camaving’s cross into the box was returned in front of goal by Benzema, with Rodrygo being the quickest to get in front of Ederson and clear the ball into the net. At that moment, everyone in the stadium realised that nothing was actually lost yet, because one goal was enough for extra time.
The Bernabéu announcer made the fans even happier by announcing six minutes. At that moment, there was a war cry from the stands as if they were celebrating another goal.
Real went on another attack just a minute after the first goal, Carvajal’s centre into the box was easily headed by Asensio, Rodrygo swung into the air and scored.
This sent the game into extra time, where Karim Benzema was fouled in the box by Dias and converted the penalty safely. Real kept the result for the rest of the match.
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