Manchester City were seconds away from a Champions League final but suffered a heartbreaking exit as Real Madrid came back late on to turn their semi-final around.
City beat Real 4-3 in last week’s first leg at the Etihad, had a foot in the Champions League final when Riyad Mahrez put them ahead at the Bernabeu. Pep Guardiola recalled Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo after the first leg, and were brilliant for 89 minutes in this second leg.
Guardiola said Walker was a risky inclusion, but he lasted 60 minutes before going off, and Mahrez’s well-taken goal put them two goals ahead on aggregate.
However, Rodrygo scored on the stroke of 90 minutes and then in injury time to shock City and send the game to extra time. Then, Karim Benzema won a penalty and converted it to send City out in unbelievable circumstances.
Carlo Ancelotti admits he cannot explain how Real Madrid came back from the brink of defeat tonight.
“I can’t say we’re used to living this kind of night. It happened for us what happened against Chelsea. Really difficult to say why. This is the biggest history of this club that helps us to kick on when it seems we are gone.”
“It’s true, the game was close to finishing, we were unable to find the last energy we had. We played a good game against a strong rival. After that we equalised, of course we were better psychologically in extra time. I have no time to think about this [that the game was lost], it was difficult in this period when City had good control of the game. The last opportunity we were able to go to extra time,” he said
Typical City never truly died. It just turned itself into a solely European phenomenon. The Blues’ capacity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was never more acute, never more painful, than in their extra time capitulation to Real Madrid.
After playing the Spanish aristocrats off the park last week, but failing to drive home their advantage, they came up with what looked like the perfect Euro away performance by defending doggedly against a predictably furious Real assault and then breaking away to apparently seal victory with a Riyad Mahrez stunner.
But oh no. The gods of football have still not done with tormenting City fans, and Rodrygo again resurrected Real from the dead, scoring twice as City’s stern defence collapsed in added time – ironically much of it due to Kyle Walker’s injury problems.
And when Ruben Dias finally got a challenge slightly wrong, and took down Karim Benzema, the wily France striker picked himself up to book Real’s final place. City have lorded it over the Premier League but they seem to find new ways of exiting the Champions League.
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