City edge Madrid in Champions League classic | latest news from nigerian newspapers today

City edge Madrid in Champions League classic

Manchester City overcame Real Madrid 4-3 in a scintillating contest which saw the hosts preserve their fine UEFA Champions League (UCL) record at the Etihad Stadium, having not lost at home in Europe since 2018.

Pep Guardiola spoke of how his side would need two “exceptional games” in order to navigate this blockbuster tie. Beating the 13-time European champions, who were also in possession of a six-game undefeated away record coming into the clash, would be a daunting task for most. However, an asserted City started on the front froot, as Riyad Mahrez breezed past a sea of statuesque Madrid defenders before picking out Kevin De Bruyne, who headed home just 90 seconds in – the quickest goal ever scored in a UCL semi-final.

‘Los Blancos’ might be just one point away from clinching the LaLiga title, but they were dealt another blow when Gabriel Jesus, who scored four at the weekend against Watford, expertly turned David Alaba in the penalty area to net his side’s second with 11 minutes gone. It appeared the next goal could decide the contest, but after missing several opportunities against their rattled visitors, the ‘Cityzens’ were pegged back by Karim Benzema’s guided volley – the Frenchman’s 40th goal of the season – to reignite the contest before HT.

City edge Madrid in Champions League classic | latest news from nigerian newspapers today
City edge Madrid in Champions League classic | latest news from nigerian newspapers today

Neither Sporting nor Atlético Madrid managed a shot on target in their first legs against Manchester City, but the hosts, who were missing both João Cancelo and Kyle Walker, looked far from impenetrable. However, they were arguably the superior attacking unit throughout, with Mahrez smashing the post before Dani Carvajal valiantly denied Phil Foden’s rebound effort just minutes after the restart.

In a thrilling second half, Guardiola’s side had appeared to establish their trademark midfield stranglehold, and after a prolonged spell of dominance, Foden would not be denied again, nodding in a floated Fernandinho cross. Madrid, though, struck back instantaneously via Vinícius Júnior’s magnificent run and composed finish to punish a wasteful City. It appeared to be nothing more than a momentary blip for City as Bernardo Silva smashed a stunning effort past Thibaut Courtois to restore the two-goal advantage.

There would be a final twist in an exhilarating match-up, as Benzema netted an ice-cold Panenka penalty. Although Guardiola is sure to be frustrated with the ultimately narrow margin of victory, the win moves him one step closer to being the first manager to knock Real Madrid out of the UCL three times.

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