With all eyes from across Europe falling on the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday night, Real Madrid produced another stunning comeback in the Spanish capital as they grabbed a 3-1 win against Manchester City.
Appearing to have been crashing out of this season’s Champions League after watching Pep Guardiola’s side hold a two-goal buffer in the final moments, second-half substitute Rodrygo then produced a famous late flurry.
Writing off Riyad Mahrez’s opening strike in the 73rd-minute, the Brazilian youngster bagged an injury-time brace with both goals being separated by under 90 seconds.
Pulling off another historic rally and backed by a lively Bernabéu support, there was still time for attacking talisman Karim Benzema to drag his side into another Champions League final against Liverpool thanks to an extra-time penalty.
Handing the Premier League giants another real European blow, we have taken a look at the main talking points from a remarkable night in Madrid.
Rodrygo writes himself into Los Blancos folklore
Coming off the bench with just 22 minutes left on the clock, there is no doubt that even Carlo Ancelotti would not have expected such a remarkable impact from the red-hot Rodrygo.
While fellow Brazilian international Vinicius Junior might have stollen plenty of headlines after his stunning first-leg strike at the Etihad, it was Rodrygo who wrote himself into Real Madrid folklore.
Turning home from close range in the 90th-minute with what was Los Blancos’ first shot on target, the 21-year-old sent the Bernabéu support into overdrive after setting up a nervy final few minutes.
However, needing under 90 seconds to get the aggregate score at 5-5, Rodrygo levelled the tie with a header into the top corner of Ederson’s goal after Marco Asensio flicked on Dani Carvajal’s cross.
Cementing his spot as a Real Madrid icon after a famous display off the bench, Rodrygo finds himself enjoying quite the end of the season.
Gaining a host of plaudits from across Spain over recent weeks, the 21-year-old’s iconic injury-time brace means that he has now bagged six goals in as many appearances across all competitions.
Benzema completes another remarkable Bernabéu comeback
Keeping Real Madrid within touching distance after bagging a first-leg brace away at the Etihad in their showdown last week, it almost seemed destined that a certain Karim Benzema would be the man to complete the job here.
While the French superstar might have found chances hard to come by for long spells on Wednesday night, Los Blancos’ attacking talisman once again showed his cool from 12 yards out.
Producing a sublime panenka penalty in Manchester eight days ago, the one-time Lyon striker this time slotted calmly past Ederson and underlined why many have tipped him to claim a first Ballon d’Or crown this season.
Once again finding the net as Madrid reclaimed their La Liga crown with a 4-0 romp against Espanyol last weekend, Benzema has only continued to break a string of records on what has been a famous campaign in Madrid.
Desperate to claim a fifth Champions League title, the 34-year-old’s 94th-minute penalty means that he has now racked up 15 European strikes in just his 11 appearances.
Spearheading a Los Blancos side that have mounted stunning comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City, can anyone stop King Karim?
More Champions League heartbreak for Pep
Eventually leaving the Etihad last week with an action-packed 4-3 advantage, all signs were pointing towards Manchester City cruising their way towards back-to-back Champions League finals.
However, watching Kai Havertz hand Chelsea their second European crown out in Portugal last season, Guardiola’s wait for another Champions League medal only goes on.
Now failing to lift Europe’s most prized award since his time at Barcelona over a decade ago, the 51-year-old will once again be ruing a string of missed opportunities on Wednesday night.
Really failing to hammer home their buffer on home soil last week, the one-time Bayern Munich boss saw second-half substitute and club-record signing Jack Grealish miss a pair of late chances.
Clearly losing their heads once Rodrygo bagged that stunning injury-double brace, Guardiola must accept the criticism that will undoubtedly come his way following another Champions League collapse.
Making the shock call to bring off Belgium international Kevin De Bruyne, the decision to chuck Kyle Waler in at the deep end also backfired as the former Tottenham defender had to hobble off late into the second-half.
What does this do for Liverpool?
While Manchester City might still find themselves holding a one-point buffer at the top of the Premier League table, many across Europe will be wondering what Wednesday’s defeat could do to their mental state?
Appearing to be cruising their way to another Champions League final as Mahrez once again handed them a two-goal buffer, there is no doubt that Liverpool will be hoping that they can capitalize on City’s European collapse.
Mounting their own eye-catching European comeback away at Spanish outfit Villarreal as Jurgen Klopp’s men picked up a second-leg 3-2 win on foreign soil, the Reds still have their sights set on clinching a double-winning campaign this year.
With there now a real chance that Manchester City could finish the season without a single piece of silverware to their name, Liverpool should be relishing a mouth-watering meeting against Real Madrid on May 28th.
However, along with suffering a 3-1 loss against Los Blancos when they faced off against the Spanish giants in the 2018 Champions League final, Klopp’s side also came crashing out of last season’s tournament at the hands of Ancelotti’s high-flying squad.
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Nacho, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde, Modric, Vinicius Junior, Benzema
Subs: Vallejo, Asensio, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Vazquez, Ceballos
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Foden, Jesus, Mahrez
Subs: Zinchenko, Sterling, Gundogan, Grealish, Fernandinho
Goals: Real Madrid: Rodrygo 90′, 90+1′, Benzema 95′ pen – Manchester City: Mahrez 73′
Yellow Cards: Real Madrid: Carvajal, Militao, Valverde, Modric – Manchester City: Zinchenko, Laporte, Sterling
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Daniele Orsato
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