Manchester City has the advantage in the Champions League semi-finals after edging out Real Madrid 4-3 in a thrilling first leg at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side made a stunning start, striking twice in the opening 11 minutes through Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.
The recently crowned LaLiga champions responded with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior sandwiching Phil Foden’s header.
The hosts hit back through Bernardo Silva’s stellar strike. Still, Benzema’s nonchalant late penalty cut the gap to a single goal ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday.
City made a flying start and took the lead courtesy of the quickest goal scored in a Champions League semi-final.
Indeed, just 94 seconds were on the clock when De Bruyne – the hero against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals – headed home from Riyad Mahrez’s delicious cross.
De Bruyne turned provider as the hosts doubled their advantage nine minutes later, his cross ricocheting kindly for Jesus to tuck away.
Mahrez and Foden squandered chances before Madrid pulled one back as Benzema brilliantly volleyed home.
City regained their two-goal buffer within eight minutes of the restart, Foden ghosting in to head home Fernandinho’s cross.
Madrid responded almost immediately as Vinicius raced down the left flank from inside his half before slotting past Ederson.
The city regained control in the 73rd minute. Referee Istvan Kovacs played a brilliant advantage after Oleksandr Zinchenko was felled by Toni Kroos, enabling Silva to fire past a perplexed Thibaut Courtois.
But Los Blancos had the final word courtesy of Benzema’s Panenka-style penalty after Laporte handled in the box.
What does it mean? Advantage City.
In their last four home games against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Manchester City is now unbeaten with that narrow victory.
Should his side avoid defeat in Spain, Guardiola would become the first manager to eliminate Los Blancos from this competition on three occasions.
Another milestone from Benzema:
He may have been on the losing side, but Benzema still hit yet another landmark in a remarkable season.
On the day of his 600th appearance for Madrid, the France international surpassed 40 goals in a single campaign for the first time in his career.
His two goals came from three shots – a tally only bettered by Phil Foden (four).
While he also registered a game-high total of three key passes (level with Kevin De Bruyne).
Home hero Foden shines:
Foden, who has been with City since four, indeed rose to the occasion on the biggest stage.
The England international recorded the most shots on goal (four) and was unlucky not to add to his tally.
While he also delivered the most crosses during the pulsating first leg (five). What’s next? The two sides resume this epic battle at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday. Before that, Madrid hosted Espanyol in LaLiga on Saturday – the same day that City continued their Premier League title charge away at Leeds United. Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.
The two sides resume this epic battle at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday. Before that, Madrid hosted Espanyol in LaLiga on Saturday – the same day that City continued their Premier League title charge away at Leeds United.
Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.