City gave perhaps their best Champions League performance yet with a stunning 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. It was the first time City have beaten Real Madrid and it capped a breath-taking performance from a team who took the game to the 13-times Champions League winners from the word go and had to recover from losing Aymeric Laporte to injury in the first-half before going a goal behind on the hour. The introduction of Raheem Sterling proved the catalyst with the England winger involved in Gabriel Jesus’ 79th-minute equaliser and winning a penalty just four minutes later. Real Madrid ended the game with 10 men after Sergio Ramos was shown a straight red card later on. All in all, an unforgettable night in the Spanish capital and perhaps the Champions League night all City fans have been waiting for.
WHAT HAPPENED? City soon warmed to the task, knocking the ball around confidently and moving fluidly. Pep Guardiola’s formation seemed to change with each transition, but whenever Real Madrid attacked, there was a solid collection of bodies lined up to keep the hosts at bay. The first real chance of the game fell City’s way on 21 minutes as Kevin De Bruyne slipped a ball through to Gabriel Jesus who held off his marker as he cut back inside but then saw his shot beaten out by Thibaut Courtois. Then Riyad Mahrez poked the ball to De Bruyne but the Belgian fired high and wide as he looked to curl it into the top corner. So well had City defended that Real Madrid’s first real sniff of a goal came on 32 minutes – and it should have resulted in a goal. Ferland Mendy’s left-wing cross found Karim Benzema who headed powerfully towards goal and Ederson produced a superb save down low to his right but it looked certain Vinicius would prod home the rebound only for the Brazilian to get his feet caught up and the danger was cleared. It was a big let-off, but it immediately then became clear Aymeric Laporte was struggling as he sat down on the turf – and left the pitch soon after, shaking his head. In first half added time, City came close to claiming a vital away goal when De Bruyne’s corner was flapped at by Courtois and the ball fell to Jesus whose volley was almost sliced into his own goal by Sergio Ramos before he cleared the danger. City started the second half by twice going close to opening the scoring, first with a low Jesus drive and then with a Mahrez effort, both pushed out by Courtois. Then, against the run of play, Real Madrid were ahead as a counter-attack saw Vinicius square to Isco as Fernandinho and Kyle Walker chased him into the box where he squared the ball to Isco who tucked a low shot past Ederson. It was harsh and barely deserved, but this competition offers little sympathy. City lost a bit of shape as they chased an equaliser and Real Madrid threatened to double their advantage on a couple of occasions, but then, a dramatic turnaround. City continued to attack and as Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne exchanged passed, the Belgian’s cross just cleared Sergio Ramos and Gabriel Jesus headed past Courtois to make it 1-1. But things were about to get even better as just four minutes later, City went ahead and super sup Sterling was once again heavily involved as he streaked into the Madrid box only to be felled by Dani Carvajal and the referee pointed to the spot. Given our recent record with penalties, all eyes were on who placed the ball on the spot – it was Kevin De Bruyne and he made no mistake with a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner with 83 minutes played. City were 2-1 up at the Bernabeu and just three minutes later, Real Madrid were reduced to ten men as Jesus broke clear only to be fouled on the edge of the box by Ramos who was shown a straight red card. Mahrez had a couple of half-chances to further bloody Madrid's nose and Sterling also saw an effort saved by Courtois, but the 3,000 delirious City fans weren't complaining. What a night...
WHAT’S NEXT? City will look to secure their second trophy of the season on Sunday against Aston Villa and win the Carabao Cup third successive for the third successive season.City have beaten Villa twice in the Premier League by an aggregate of 9-1, but there will be no thoughts of previous meetings in this one-off clash. Then it’s back on the Wembley trail with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup next Wednesday.
City: Ederson, Walker, Laporte (Fernandinho 33), Otamendi, Mendy, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne (c), Mahrez, Bernardo (Sterling 73), G Jesus
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, F Mendy, Casemiro, Modric (Vazquez 84), Valverde, Isco (Jovic 84), Vinicius (Bale 76), Benzema
Goals: Isco (60´), Gabriel Jesús (78´), De Bruyne (83´)
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italia). Sergio Ramos (sent off m. 86). Bookings: B. Mendy (29’),Valverde (m. 48), Modric (m.54)