MANCHESTER CITY 4-0 REAL MADRID (5-1 AGG): Pep Guardiola’s side will take on Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul after knocking out the holders
Manchester City have reached their second Champions League final after beating Real Madrid 4-0 on Wednesday night.
It was all to play for the Etihad, with the first leg of the semi-final tie finishing 1-1 in the Spanish capital eight days ago. A pulsating first-half performance from Pep Guardiola’s side allowed them to establish a two-goal advantage, with Bernardo Silva hitting a brace.
Games of this magnitude are usually either cautious or chaotic. Thankfully, this was the latter. City flew out of the blocks in search of an early goal, with Real trying desperately to keep up.
That was evident from Eduardo Camavinga’s naughty challenge on Silva that was missed by 2022 World Cup final referee Szymon Marciniak, but not by the outraged home fans. The Portuguese ace retaliated by shoving Toni Kroos over a corner flag.
Moments later, Erling Haaland went around Thibaut Courtois but the angle was too tight for a shot. Rodri then had a good chance to test the goalkeeper but pulled his effort wide.
Haaland vs Courtois
After drawing a blank in Madrid a week ago, much was expected of Haaland on Wednesday night. He should’ve scored in the 13th minute, when he was picked out in the six-yard box with the goal at his mercy. Yet his header was straight at Courtois.
Haaland got another opportunity moments later. This time, he produced a powerful header back across the goal that seemed destined for the top corner. But, somehow, Courtois managed to claw the ball away. It was superb goalkeeping by a superb goalkeeper.
City made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute, when Kevin De Bruyne threaded a ball in between two defenders for Silva to run onto. The former Monaco winger then waited for Courtois to commit before hammering the ball down the middle.
City fans went wild in response, but those cheers were almost silenced moments later when Kroos unleashed a thunderous long-range effort. The home fans were relieved to see the ball flick Ederson’s fingertips before smashing into the crossbar.
Guardiola’s side needed a second goal… and it was Silva who did the business again. Ilkay Gundogan’s shot deflected off a desperate sliding defender and looped up into the path of the little livewire, who composed himself and waited for the ball to drop.
The ball sat in the Manchester sky for what seemed like an eternity, but that split-second gave Silva time to pick his spot and calmly slot a header into the top corner. City fans would’ve been forgiven for looking at flights to Istanbul after that.
City finish the job
The second half was a more cagey affair, but City were always in control. Haaland almost made it 3-0 when he got in behind the defence, only for Courtois to produce another ridiculous save to deny the Norwegian. Haaland’s furious reaction spoke volumes.
Yet City’s 52-goal striker was delighted a few moments later when Manuel Akanji’s header diverted off Militao and into the net. There was just enough time for Alvarez to come off the bench to score a fourth. City were outrageously good, Real were overwhelmed.
Applaud the fans
City’s victory against Real mean they’ve now gone 26 home games unbeaten in the Champions League since they lost to Lyon at the Etihad in September 2018. Astonishingly, Guardiola’s side have won 24 of those games – such has been their dominance in Europe.
In the Premier League, City do lose at home from time to time. Yet, just like Anfield, the Etihad has become a special place on European nights. City fans deserve a lot of credit for bringing the noise… and they deserve to have their day out in Istanbul next month.