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Man City crush holders to book Champions League final return

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 May 2023

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Manchester City are celebrating a return to the Champions League final after crushing holders Real Madrid with one of the greatest performances in the club’s history.

Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side overwhelmed the 14-time European champions 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, booking their place in next month’s Istanbul showpiece 5-1 on aggregate.

Victory was as convincing as the scoreline suggests with Madrid struggling to live with the pace and power of City and grateful to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for preventing an even bigger landslide.

Bernardo Silva set City on their way to a final date against Inter Milan with two first-half goals before Eder Militao turned into his own net and Julian Alvarez added a late fourth.

City will now hope to lift the trophy and make amends for their loss in the 2021 final as part of what could be a glorious treble.

The first of those trophies could come on Sunday if they beat Chelsea to clinch the Premier League with the FA Cup final against Manchester United on June 3.

City manager Guardiola said: “In the Premier League we are close, we know we need one more game.

“We play against our neighbours and against an Italian team in the finals. The season is really, really good. Now we have to lift it. We are close and of course we are going to try.”

Last week’s semi-final first leg against Madrid in the Bernabeu Stadium had been an even contest.

City dominated possession for large spells but Real were more incisive on the counter-attack.

This time City refused to allow their opponents to sit back and feel comfortable soaking up pressure. They were far more dynamic and the Spanish giants could not handle their speed and movement.

The resounding win made for sweet revenge for City’s heartbreaking loss to Real and the same stage last season.

Guardiola said: “It was really tough losing the way we lost. In that moment we had to swallow poison but football and sport always gives you another chance.

“When the draw was Madrid, I said, ‘yeah I want it’.

“Everything was there – the energy we had from a year of being criticised as players for not having character when we lost.”

Carlo Ancelotti, coach of the dethroned champions, could not begrudge City their victory.

“I think that Manchester City deserved to win because they played better than us,” the Italian said.

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