Manchester City, Real Madrid Evenly Poised After Classic


Manchester City, Real Madrid Evenly Poised After Classic


Holders Manchester City and Real Madrid shared six goals in a thriller to leave their Champions League quarter-final evenly poised after the first leg at the Bernabeu.

Pep Guardiola’s side took the lead in the second minute when Bernardo Silva cleverly snuck a 25-yard free-kick round the wall past goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Two deflected strikes brought 14-time European Cup winners Madrid level. First Eduardo Camavinga’s long-range effort hit Ruben Dias and spun into the far corner of Stefan Ortega’s goal, before Rodrygo got in behind the City defence and poked home via Manuel Akanji’s heel.

City were dominant in possession throughout under the closed roof of the Bernabeu but lacked quality in the final third – until Phil Foden stepped up.

The England midfielder had been on the periphery of the game but found space just outside the area to turn and fire into the top corner to pull City level.

Moments later left-back Josko Gvardiol cut in and found the far corner with a superb right-foot shot to score his first goal since joining City from RB Leipzig in the summer.

However, Madrid equalised with a stunning volley from Federico Valverde to set up an intriguing second leg on Wednesday, 17 April at Etihad Stadium, where City beat Madrid 4-0 in last season’s semi-finals.

There was late concern for City though, with Foden hobbling after a late tackle on his ankle.

Foden allayed fears of a serious injury, telling TNT Sports he had a “bad dead leg” and was hopeful of being fit for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Luton.

Manchester City, who won this competition for the first time last season as part of a historic Treble, came into this game with Kevin de Bruyne on the bench after the Belgium midfielder was ill on Tuesday.

They got the perfect start when Silva cleverly curled in the opener after Aurelien Tchouameni, who will now miss the second leg, fouled Jack Grealish.

Guardiola’s team were rocked by Madrid’s quickfire response, but showed patience in their build-up with Madrid happy to sit off the Premier League champions, only pressing when City got near the penalty area.

It worked for large parts of the game and opened up counter-attacking opportunities for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, but City’s quality eventually told.

Foden had been quiet, drifting between wide right and attacking midfield, but his superb season continued when he smartly turned and fired an unstoppable drive into the top-right corner of the goal.

When Gvardiol put the visitors ahead, just a second win at the Bernabeu looked on for City, before they were pegged back by Valverde’s wonderful low drive.

However, City now have the chance at home to progress to the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive season, where in recent years they have blown sides away in the Champions League.