Manchester City secured a memorable victory at the Santiago Bernabeu as they came back to beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday evening.
Zinedine Zidane’s men were underwhelming throughout large portions of the match but had an opener gifted to them as Isco finished from Vinicius Junior’s low cross. Gabriel Jesus got the visitors on level terms with a guided header into the far corner of the net in the 78th minute, with Kevin De Bruyne then converting a penalty shortly after to put them ahead.
Real Madrid’s night then got even worse as captain Sergio Ramos was sent off with just a few minutes to go, allowing City to secure a potentially huge first-leg advantage.
Key saves by both keepers
It was a lowkey opening at the Bernabeu with the first chance not coming until midway through the first-half. Gabriel Jesus was released in-behind, tried to cut inside but Thibaut Courtois produced a low stop to paw the ball away from danger.
The hosts then had the clearest opportunity to open the scoring as Karim Benzema drew out an excellent stop out of Ederson with a header into the ground. Despite the stop, it still looked as though Real would score as the ball fell to Vinicius Jr but the Brazilian slipped with the goal at his mercy.
Regardless of that let-off, the English outfit then did suffer a massive blow, but not in the scoreline. Aymeric Laporte, who had only previously returned a few weeks ago, had to be withdrawn with yet another injury.
Manchester City spurn chances
Manchester City though had a wonderful opportunity to go into the break with the lead. With the first-half ticking away, Courtois failed to deal with a corner, causing the ball to fall to Jesus. The Brazilian struck for goal, with Ramos almost putting through his own net with the clearance but to his relief Casemiro managed to get back and hammer the ball off of the line.
Having ended the first-half in the ascendency, City picked up exactly where they’d left off as Riyad Mahrez drew to quickfire stops out of Courtois.
Real make City pay for mistakes
For all of their positive play, City’s downfall came from a handful of mistakes. First, Nicolas Otamendi and Rodri got in a mess on the ball, gifting it to Vinicius. Kyle Walker then tried to recover the situation but only served to gift it back to the Brazilian, who pulled it across the face of goal for the unmarked Isco for an easy finish under Ederson.
Ramos almost doubled the lead just ten minutes later but substitute defender Fernandinho did well to produce the block.
Quickfire strikes put City ahead
Pep Guardiola’s men did eventually get on the scoresheet through Jesus. De Bruyne was afforded far too much room on the left and managed to dig out an excellent cross towards the Brazilian, who scored with a great header. The hosts appealed for a foul on Ramos, who they said was shoved in the back for the goal, but they fell on deaf ears as City celebrated.
Only minutes later, the Premier League champions were in dreamland as Dani Carvajal hauled down Raheem Sterling in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. With their recent problems from the spot, it would have been understandable for their to be tension in the air but De Bruyne was the coolest man in Madrid as he sent Courtois the wrong way and swept the ball into the bottom-left corner.
With the visitors now enjoying their night at the Bernabeu, their evening was then made even better with Real captain Ramos receiving his marching orders. Sloppy passing saw Jesus played in-behind, with the Spaniard hauling him down on the edge of the area as the last defender. A straight red card followed, ruling him out of the second-leg at the Etihad Stadium in three weeks.
The performance from Manchester City really was brilliant. The Citizens were not overawed at all at the Bernabeu, creating chances throughout the match. It looked like it was not going to be their night as Isco scored the opener but Guardiola’s men have to be praised for their character and determination in securing a wonderful win.
Real Madrid: Courtois (6); Mendy (6), Ramos (5), Varane (6), Carvajal (5); Modric (7) (Vazquez (N/A), 84′), Casemiro (6), Valverde (6); Isco (7) (Jovic (N/A), 84′), Vinicius (7) (Bale (5), 75′), Benzema (6).
Manchester City: Ederson (6); Mendy (6), Laporte (6) (Fernandinho (7), 33′), Otamendi (6), Walker (7); Gundogan (6), Rodri (6), De Bruyne (8); B Silva (6) (Sterling (7), 73′), Mahrez (7), Jesus (7).
Goals: Isco (60′), Jesus (78′), De Bruyne (83′ PEN)
Referee: Daniele Orsato
Yellow Cards: B. Mendy (29′), Valverde (48′), Modric (54′)
Red Cards: Ramos (86′)
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