Blog

Pep Guardiola fears history is repeating itself after Man City lose control in Real Madrid thriller

The Premier League champions threatened to end the clash at the Etihad Stadium only for Karim Benzema to bring the Spaniards to life and the semi-final cautiously headed back to the Bernabeu (Author: Gardener)

Man CityOf course, if you're wondering how Pep Guardiola felt about this remarkable game, considering that his Manchester City side should have ended the draw that night, it's perhaps Carlo Ancelotti's words that best explain, why it is still "alive". The Italian described the comparative - and crucial - lack of emotion in his Real Madrid team. "At the moment it's very important not to lose your head," said Ancelotti after the 4-3 victory. “That is characteristic of this team. We've seen it so many times. Because quite simply, there is no guarantee that the city can do the same. The Champions League history of this team and this manager is full of examples to the contrary; of moments when they just get out of control. The big danger for the second leg is that this draw contains even more elements than usual to encourage a similar collapse. It's exactly the kind of situation that will play Guardiola's head and could condition him into another 'tactical episode'. After all, City didn't just have control of this game. They had the tie in their hands. They should have been out of sight after half an hour and well before Karim Benzema – of course – shot the entire semi-final. City had gutted Madrid and Benzema was furious about it. So impatient that when his team finally got a turn, he absolutely sprinted over and quickly caught up with them. Benzema then provided the ultimate example by simply scoring from an unlikely position. City never had the game under the same command again. Of course, they still had chances to win the draw that night. There were so many moments when the ball just seemed to zip over Thibaut Courtois' goal. There was even Phil Foden blocking a close-range shot after Riyad Mahrez hit the post. The touch on the run to confuse Nacho for that shot off the post was great and as wonderful in its own way as Vinicius' dummy nutmeg on Fernandinho. And yet it was one of the few moments that culminated in Mahrez being completely wasteful. Guardiola's reaction to this was an insight into this mindset. For Vinicius' dummy, he almost comically sank to his knees with his head in his hands. Vinicius was still a long way from reaching his goal at this point. That theatrical reaction did not include Guardiola's footballing savvy and his anticipation of what was to come: a goal from Vinicius. There was also what he had seen before. So much of the draw had traits from so many Guardiola eliminations in the past. For him, that is the great frustration that feeds into so many moments of “overthinking”. It so happens that some of his most traumatic eliminations have come despite — and sometimes because of — some of his greatest accomplishments of all time. All eliminations against Chelsea 2012, Barcelona 2015, Monaco 2017, Liverpool 2018, Tottenham Hotspur 2019 and most notably Atletico Madrid 2016 had long periods that were near-perfect Guardiola performances. They were career shows, just the way he wanted the game played. And yet his teams went out. They were still hostage to those moments spiraling out of control. That hangs over such a good display. That's why there's this ominous feeling about a game where, remember, City scored four goals against Real Madrid and still won. It is the fear of what might come based on the memory of what happened before. There was another striking line in Guardiola's own press conference in this regard. “You always have to play well against Madrid. You can score three goals in 10 minutes. It was an odd comment because it wasn't what happened on Tuesday night. Madrid scored after 33, 55 and 82 minutes. Guardiola has only suffered so many times. That was the story of Chelsea 2012, Barcelona 2015, Monaco 2017, Liverpool 2018 and Tottenham 2019. Now it was almost as if Guardiola was guessing something similar. It's clearly playing in his head. He now has to do what Madrid have made their own trademark. The city is ahead. Madrid meanwhile have the Bernabeu. "We need another magical night," said Ancelotti. It certainly sets the stage for another exciting night.

Read

Manchester City beat Real Madrid in a 4-3 thriller but Benzema keeps the tie alive

Manchester City beat Real Madrid 4-3 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final but Karim Benzema gave up everything to play (Author: Gardener)

Manchester CityWatching this Champions League semi-final thriller, in which his Manchester City side enjoyed a solid first-leg lead at various points, saw Pep Guardiola witness an agonizing manager. He was red hot as Riyad Mahrez slammed into the side netting with Phil Foden to put the square pass in front of goal. After 26 minutes that could have been 3-0 for City. Guardiola looked ready to curl up in a ball when Rúben Dias passed the ball moments later and let Vinícius Júnior through, although the Real striker failed to finish. The city's defenses were unusually loose. And what about that moment in the 54th minute just after Foden made it 3-1? Guardiola was expecting a throw-in for his team, only it went the other way. It's what City's quest for a first Champions League does to the man who wants it, maybe needs it, more than anyone else. And maybe that's what playing against this Real team does to the opponents. Good, even quite entertaining, exciting. Then suddenly it's not okay anymore. Things looked ridiculously easy for City when Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0 in the 11th minute. And yet the lead was only 2-1 at half-time after Karim Benzema emerged to show his deadly prowess. City pressed again after Vinícius' goal. With an intelligent advantage from referee Istvan Kovacs, the City midfielder fired into the near top corner and Guardiola was able to lose himself with joy. It wouldn't be long before Real paused to regroup. Benzema is the competition's top scorer with 14 and has scored 41 goals in 41 appearances for Real this season. Guardiola dropped onto a drinks cooler. Real had long been second best in the round of 16 and quarterfinals against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea. Still, they've found a way to pull through - partly thanks to Benzema's goals, partly because of their history of who they are. In the final act, Dias stretched at Real's far post to hit a cross, only to fail to stretch enough. Guardiola went through his final contortions. In the heat of the moment, it was easy to forget that City had actually beaten and long outplayed the designated Spanish champions. They should have scored more goals. It was City's third European Cup semi-final while it was No. 31 for Real. Just enjoy it, Guardiola had told his players and City did just that from the start, drawing first blood after 93 seconds. Mahrez sliced ​​into a gap and dodged Luka Modric before selecting the late run from Kevin De Bruyne, who threw himself into the header while Carvajal - and then Thibaut Courtois - lashed out. Now there was a stir, and when the second gate fell, there was joy, even disbelief. Foden got off to the left and when he found De Bruyne the flank was whipped into the area. David Alaba tried to back down from Jesus in order to back down possessions, which felt risky, and he got it all wrong. When Jesus turned, the ball was still at his feet. Real's defenders felt particularly uncomfortable on the ball when City pressed. The visitors were on the alert, and it felt like City was about to do some serious damage. Mahrez had to pass to Foden just to take the shot - a poor decision - and Foden swept past the far post after a smooth counterattack. However, the defensive nervousness was not just reserved for Real. City goalkeeper Ederson played a couple of poor passes in the first half which created pressure and Dias was caught on the ball more than once. Vinícius flared, Alaba rose to miss a header and then Benzema scored with a controlled volley from Ferland Mendy's cross. Guardiola had to replace the injured John Stones, who was filling in at right-back in the absence of Kyle Walker and João Cancelo, with Fernandinho. It was the 36-year-old who crossed for Foden's goal just after Éder let Militão Mahrez through to roll against the far post. Foden shot from the rebound and Carvajal blocked. But it was Fernandinho who was beaten 3-2 and passed by Vinícius, City's defensive coverage was nowhere to be seen. Laporte and Mahrez missed big chances on either side of Silva's goal but the last word would go to Benzema.

Read

De Bruyne's quick start, Benzema's brilliance and sloppy mistakes

It was a wild Champions League semi-final but Man City exited the Etihad Stadium with the upper hand over Real Madrid. Here are the main talking points. (Author: Gardener)

De Bruyne'sCraig Burley explains the situations that led to Man City letting Real Madrid back into the UCL draw after a two-goal lead. Craig Burley explains the situations that led to Man City letting Real Madrid back into the UCL draw after a two-goal lead. MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City and Real Madrid played a pulsating Champions League semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, with Man City leading 4-3. Although City looked ready to run away with it, Madrid stayed close and there will be plenty to play for in the second leg. The semi-final between Man City and Real Madrid set the record for the highest-scoring Champions League semi-final ever, with Pep Guardiola's side taking a 4-3 lead to move into the Bernabeu next week. City led 2-0 after just 11 minutes thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus before Karim Benzema equalized before half-time. Bernardo Silva scored a spectacular fourth for City but Benzema struck another from the penalty spot to ensure the tie was level before the second leg in Spain. Guardiola will feel City's advantage should be even greater after seeing his side miss a multitude of chances and Real Madrid will believe they still have a chance to break their own record of 13 improve wins in this competition. That's especially true with Benzema in the team after the forward has struck twice in his last four Champions League games to score nine goals and also surpassed the 40-goal mark for the season. De Bruyne and Jesus would probably like to score more goals, but when they hit the net it usually matters. De Bruyne has scored home and away against Chelsea, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool this season and his early header gave City a crucial lead against Real Madrid. His goal, scored after just one minute and 33 seconds, was Man City's fastest goal of all time in the Champions League. Jesus, meanwhile, has struggled to create chances this season but has still managed to score against Arsenal, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and now Real Madrid. The Spanish giants will be sick of the sight after he scored in both round of 16 games in 2020. While other world-class midfielders like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos took a while to find their rhythm, De Bruyne scored just 90 seconds after that and Jesus set up 10 minutes later. The Belgian also created golden chances for Mahrez and Foden in the opening 30 minutes and City could have been out of sight before Benzema buckled one before half-time. Mahrez's miss, which also ignored a square pass to Foden at the back post, angered Guardiola so much that the City boss landed in Ancelotti's technical zone as he sped down the touchline to yell at the Algerian. Had City been at their best the clash would have been over but Real Madrid are set to return to Spain and believe they can reach the final in Paris at the end of May. Mahrez and Foden missed chances in the first half and right after half time Mahrez hit the post after being sent through cleanly before Foden rebounded to hit Dani Carvajal on the line. Even after Foden scored City's third, Aymeric missed another clear chance following a cross from Oleksandr Zinchenko. The waste left Real Madrid off the hook while the visitors also benefited from Guardiola's problems at right-back. John Stones was not fit enough to train in front of the cameras yesterday but was called up in the starting XI and after Benzema's first-half goal came from a cross by his side he was almost immediately replaced by Fernandinho. The 37-year-old started well - it was his cross that set up Foden's header - but struggled more as the game progressed. He was embarrassed by Vinicius Junior as the striker scored to make it 3-2 and Etihad held his breath every time Real Madrid threw the ball out to the left. When Benzema plays like that in your team, there's always a chance.

Read

Man City wins Thriller with Real Madrid 4-3

Manchester City beat Real Madrid in a thrilling first leg of the Champions League semifinals and will travel to the Bernabeu with a 4-3 lead. (Author: Gardener)

Man CityPlease use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Manchester City beat Real Madrid in a thrilling first leg of the Champions League semifinals and will travel to the Bernabeu with a 4-3 lead. New Jersey Devils at Ottawa Senators: First period Moneyline, 26 Apr 2022 Liverpool won't make the mistake of underestimating Villarreal says Klopp Guardiola Fitzgibbons beats Moore in first round of surfing Margaret River Pro Real Betis fans celebrate on the Streets after Copa del Rey win Fury defeats Whyte by TKO in 6th round and says he will retire from boxing Tucci makes truffle pasta for the crew. Watch tense exchanges in Dr. Oz's first Senate primary. How Bangladesh looks to the future. Watch the TikTok star give away money for acts of kindness. Amazon's proposed new building looks like this emoji active Russian shelling The most revealing image of how Trump's inner circle and supporters were working behind the scenes to try to overturn the election results. This beautiful hotel was designed to immerse you in nature This beautiful hotel was designed to immerse you in nature This beautiful hotel was designed to immerse you in nature What is a 'nature's recipe' and how do they work? What is a "natural recipe" and how does it work? What is a "natural recipe" and how does it work? Senate candidate delivers speech during labor Senate candidate delivers speech during labor CNN10: The Big Stories of the Day, Explained in 10 Minutes CNN10: The Big Stories of the Day, Explained in 10 Minutes CNN10: The Big Stories of the Day, Explained in 10 Minutes “Schizophrenics nature”: Dr. Birx describes what it was like working in Trump's White House "Schizophrenic Nature": Dr. Birx describes what it was like to work in Trump's White House "We paid attention to the bystanders": A look behind the camera from 5 pioneering journalists "We paid attention to the bystanders": A behind the camera look from 5 trailblazing journalists You break it You buy it A lifetime of brisk walking can make you 16 years younger by middle age This Tokyo Anti-procrastination Cafe saves writer's block by the minute These bear cubs enjoy the time outside their den The moment an octopus catches a diver's camera steals underwater breakfast ideas on the go This DJ takes his music to new heights in the Swiss Alps! This 11-Month-Old Baby Gets All the Attention Because of His Size Trip Stacking, What Is It and Should You Do It? Don't try this at home! Breathtaking moment British army parachutes into stadium at 130mph Prince William and Kate dodge sticky question over Harry's comments about protecting the Queen How soon is it too early to quit a new job? How to make an Instagram-worthy trip when money is tight Why it's important to use sunscreen all year round Did Meghan Markle make a mistake at the Invictus Games? New research suggests that one factor really matters Dog walking becomes a scary event when a man who nearly drowned on a sandbar gives Queen Elizabeth her own limited-edition Barbie doll for the platinum anniversary gets The hardest working people Prince Harry and Meghan Markle make sure the Queen is 'protected' on recent trips. A new way to get the nose you want. How to save money on printer ink at home What NOT to cook in an air fryer How to clean and care for pillows How to find the best ergonomic mouse How to cook a holiday meal in an air fryer How to deep clean an air fryer Camping tip: How to make a Air mattress folds How to properly detap a toilet

Read

Kevin de Bruyne and Karim Benzema shine in the UCL classic

So many attacking players made themselves strong in this game (Author: Gardener)

Kevin de BruyneThere were a few moments that could be described as the sort for any other goalkeeper to send panic down the defensive ranks, although Ederson's suspect is that his City team-mates simply know their goalkeeper is comfortable. He could do little against any of Madrid's three goals and had little else to do in terms of stopping shots. With the challenge ahead - defending the Champions League's leading chancer ahead of today's game - Stones has performed as well as one could reasonably have expected before being withdrawn, possibly due to injury. Dias' night might have been one of the most comedic own goals to hit football VHS comedy headlines 30 years ago, and he must have been relieved when his back pass rolled painfully against the post. So many of the sizzling passes that launched City's most dangerous darts came from Laporte's shoe. Defensively, he erased what had otherwise been a perfectly reasonable textbook with a stunning handball to give Madrid a penalty. As City's defenders pushed further forward in search of greater advantage in this duel, he passed alongside Dias, always ready to take a pass and keep the ball at City's feet. Another show tie was bent to De Bruyne's will. From his perfectly timed dart to the cross from Riyad Mahrez, he was at his best, displaying the full repertoire of inch-perfect passes, dynamic runs and strength in tackles. He frustrated Madrid until the 74th minute, picking up the ball after Zinchenko was fouled and scoring in the near corner for the goal that could be enough to seal the draw against City. Mahrez, consistently underestimated since leaving Leicester, has made 32 goals this season with a superb early cross for De Bruyne, one which should have tempered Pep Guardiola's anger as he put his right foot into the net. It wasn't the only moment of waste tonight. Jesus played with the ferocity of a man determined to prove to Guardiola that City don't need a new number nine. His spin and finish to double the lead is a devastating example of center forward play. Foden marked his 100th City start with a well-delivered header and relentlessly bullied the overwhelming Dani Carvajal. He ran towards him with force and connected impressively with De Bruyne. From divinity to comedy in just seconds, Fernandinho rolled back the years by stealing Vinicius' pocket and delivering a perfect cross to Foden to score City's third. He then seemed to age in fast-forward as Vinicius rolled the ball through his legs before accelerating to score. Sterling delivered a late streak as City chased the fifth goal, which they needed to feel confident in this game (and there's one set you weren't expecting before kick-off) but his chance to tie the tie change did not come.

Read

De Bruyne's quick start, Benzema's brilliance and sloppy mistakes

It was a wild Champions League semi-final but Man City exited the Etihad Stadium with the upper hand over Real Madrid. Here are the main talking points. (Author: Gardener)

De Bruyne'sMANCHESTER, England — Manchester City and Real Madrid played a pulsating Champions League semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday that saw Man City lead 4-3. Although City looked ready to run away with it, Madrid stayed close and there will be plenty to play for in the second leg. The semi-final between Man City and Real Madrid set the record for the highest-scoring Champions League semi-final ever, with Pep Guardiola's side taking a 4-3 lead to win the Bernabeu next week. City led 2-0 after just 11 minutes thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus before Karim Benzema equalized before half-time. Bernardo Silva scored a spectacular fourth for City but Benzema struck another from the penalty spot to ensure the tie was level before the second leg in Spain. Guardiola will feel City's advantage should be even greater after seeing his side miss a multitude of chances and Real Madrid will believe they still have a chance to break their own record of 13 improve wins in this competition. That's especially true with Benzema in the team after the forward has scored twice in his last four Champions League games to score nine goals while also tallying more than 40 goals of the season. De Bruyne and Jesus would probably like to score more goals, but when they hit the net it usually matters. De Bruyne has scored home and away against Chelsea, Manchester United, Atletico and Liverpool this season and his early header gave City a crucial lead against Real Madrid. His goal, scored after just one minute and 33 seconds, was Man City's fastest goal of all time in the Champions League. Jesus, meanwhile, has struggled to create chances this season but has still managed to score against Arsenal, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and now Real Madrid. The Spanish giants will be sick of the sight after he scored in both round of 16 games in 2020. While other world-class midfielders like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos took a while to find their rhythm, De Bruyne scored just under 90 seconds and Jesus set up 10 minutes later. His run from the edge of the box to a header on Mahrez's cross was a textbook example of movement in the box. The Belgian also created golden chances for Riyad Mahrez and Foden in the first 30 minutes and City could have been out of sight before Benzema buckled one before half-time. Mahrez's miss, which also ignored a square pass to Foden at the back post, angered Guardiola so much that the City boss landed in Ancelotti's technical zone as he sped down the touchline to yell at the Algerian. Had City been at their best the clash would have been over but Real Madrid are set to return to Spain and believe they can reach the final in Paris at the end of May. Mahrez and Foden missed chances in the first half and just after the break Mahrez hit the post after being sent through cleanly before Foden rebounded to hit Dani Carvajal on the line. Even after Foden scored City's third, Aymeric missed another clear chance following a cross from Oleks Zinchenko. The waste left Real Madrid off the hook while the visitors also benefited from Guardiola's problems at right-back. John Stones was not fit enough to train in front of the cameras yesterday but was called up in the starting XI and after Benzema's first-half goal came from a cross by his side he was almost immediately replaced by Fernandinho. The 37-year-old started well - it was his cross that set up Foden's header - but began to struggle as the game progressed. He was embarrassed by Vinicius Junior when he scored to make it 3-2 and every time Real Madrid threw the ball out to the left, the Etihad held their breath. When Benzema plays like that in your team, there's always a chance.

Read

Foden shines on the big stage as defiant Real Madrid refuse to admit defeat

Manchester City could have grabbed the visitors in the first hour but Karim Benzema's Panenka is preparing the return to the Bernabéu (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridAfter fifteen minutes at the Etihad Stadium, Phil Foden did something wonderful on a night when that entire lighted stage seemed to ripple and tremble. In search of a high, lost, soaring pass destined for the stands, Foden sped off, pounding his feet on the turf, calibrating angles and arcs, and pulling that soaring pass out of the sky like a man caught with a stick conjuring down the moon . His first touch muffled it, his second sent it gushing right through the sea of ​​lost souls formerly known as the Real Madrid Defence. A mess of flailing limbs almost bundled a third city goal into their own net. At this point that tie looked done, Real Madrid looked done, impaled, Foden right in the middle of his own brilliant, crucial little spot of light. Elite football, we are told, is a matter of fine detail. Elite football is a suffocation. A little over an hour later, Karim Benzema paused on the same side of the pitch, went to the penalty spot and sent the ball up the soft Manchester air again, completing another gentle arc over Ederson's prone form. Benzema's second goal had pulled the score – let's get this right – back to 4-3. And on the padded seats in front of the press box, the Madrid contingent jumped up and roared and punched the air, less celebrating than laughing, peacocking, reddened with some sort of acknowledgment. Yes, we are Real Madrid. City will be happy but also insanely frustrated to lead this game at the Bernabéu next week by an odd goal from seven. Maybe they put that tie away during opening hours. Instead, the team craving control went in Madrid's place. And in the end, this was a tale of moments - so, so many moments - divided between Foden's early brilliance; and the craft of Benzema, the will of these royal meringues. There is no reasonable way to read a game like this or predict what might come in the second leg. Foden probably deserved to be picked for City if only because he couldn't have played better on a stage like this. This was an epiphany on a night where the Etihad had felt a little underwhelmed at kick-off, as if the size of that game had crept onto the pitch. City was smooth and crisp early on. After two minutes, Riyad Mahrez took a pass with that special Mahrez swizzle touch, a snap of the bottom of his boot, and just spun through Madrid's entire left side. Mahrez looked up and rolled into a training ground pass for Kevin De Bruyne to head the ball down and into the corner. Foden scored the second goal. That was shockingly bad from Madrid, the defense whizzing aside like the paper saloon doors of a western set. Foden is a footballer who seems to have a fundamental advantage in his relationship with gravity at moments like snooping around Fede Valverde, a greater lock-in in those sensitive feet. He fed De Bruyne, whose low cross to Gabriel Jesus was turned into a scalpel-like submission when David Alaba fell. And moments later, City opened up that ridiculous Real Madrid imitation once more, De Bruyne, Jesus and Foden running from the halfway line three abreast like a 60m sprint. De Bruyne timed his pass to Foden just right. The touch was good enough, the shot went wide of the far post. After 33 minutes, the team to be wrapped, unwrapped, trimmed and quartered were right back in the game thanks to Benzema, with just enough time and space to take Ferland Mendy's pass and finish like a prince. Real Madrid is a terrible football team. Real Madrid is a brilliant football team. Real Madrid is a brittle wafer-thin thing. Real Madrid is as tough as iron. One of the main benefits of believing in your own divine right to the myth of kings is that this thing is never really over. The second half bought more mania, more uncontrolled surges of energy. Foden scored from Fernandino's cross and then made his way into the corner with a seemingly endless knee slide, a man who seems to yearn for this tournament to drink these nights like a sweet puff of hot air. Vinícius Júnior scored a wonderful, driving second place for Madrid. And Madrid will go into the second leg all the happier, aware that this was a night where, despite all the cuts, in the end City seemed to be playing someone else's game, high up in that exciting white light.

Read

Man City and Real Madrid duel in the Champions League semifinals, which has it all

Both clubs' tendencies were fully on display, leading to a seven-goal thriller and a number of open potential results in the second leg. (Author: Gardener)

Man City andThe greatest gift Real Madrid have is a deep belief in their own ability to win. Time and time again over the last ten years, Madrid have been under pressure in the Champions League simply because one of their brilliant players should do something brilliant when it was needed. Madrid were second best in three quarters in both the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain and in the quarterfinals against Chelsea and still prevailed. And that it lost just 4-3 to Manchester City, who at times threatened to declassify it, said a lot for its remarkable stickability. For a number of years there has been a feeling that La Liga teams can be physically dominated by Premier League teams. It happened to Madrid in the semi-finals two seasons ago when City pushed it to the point of desperation and won in much more comfortable fashion than the 2-1 result in each leg would suggest. Again, pressing was the cornerstone of City's performance, which ultimately led to the highest-scoring semi-final in Champions League history. Madrid just couldn't get out for a long time, while every rally threatened to become an opportunity for the hosts. This is an aging Madrid, a charge usually leveled at midfield, but here it was the defense that looked aging as Dani Carvajal struggled against Phil Foden, while David Alaba struggled and was substituted at half-time. City were ahead after just 94 seconds when Riyad Mahrez rushed in from the right as Madrid oddly broke away and Kevin De Bruyne delivered a perfect cross to pass Thibaut Courtois. Nine minutes later, City had a second, Foden creating space against Carvajal and then putting it back from De Bruyne to cross to Gabriel Jesus, who turned and slotted in. At this point, City felt like they could score with almost any attack. Mahrez and Foden both missed good chances and then, out of nowhere, Karim Benzema pulled one back, his skillful volley converting a Ferland Mendy cross. Pep Guardiola had reacted with anger to Mahrez's miss, mostly because he went on target when he could have made it to Foden, who would have had an open goal, but that response showed he knew the game wasn't was won 2-0. no matter how dominant City seemed. This is a Madrid that keeps defying logic. And Guardiola may reflect on his teams' habit of being in control in big games only to lose it by conceding an easy goal. When Foden then headed in a Fernandinho cross, as a makeshift right-back for injured and initially makeshift full-back John Stones (João Cancelo was suspended, Kyle Walker injured), the goal-line seemed to reflect the game more accurately. Where Madrid deserved credit was that they were so often able to wreak havoc on the game, turning the game into a competition that flowed from end to end. When it took on a more natural shape, City looked a lot better. Bernardo Silva capitalized on a smart advantage to put the lead at 4-2 with a left-footed laser in the top left corner, but then Benzema offered an even bolder finish with a Panenka penalty after Aymeric Laporte was penalized for a hand ball, perhaps hard as the ball bounced off his head. Benzema was already the oldest Madrid player since Ferenc Puskás to score 40 goals this season. His ice-cold execution was all the more impressive after missing two penalties in seven minutes against Osasuna last week. It was almost completely dominant for the first 20 minutes. Not for the first time in a big game of Guardiola's career, it felt like an opportunity had been missed; both league games against Liverpool this season were the same. Casemiro should return for the second leg next week, which could bring some solidity back to Madrid's midfield, but given Chelsea's dominance at the Bernabeu in the last round, there's no reason City shouldn't dominate the game again, especially with Walker and Cancel to return. Trouble is, given Madrid's penchant for finding a way and City's tendency to leave goals on the table, that may not be enough. "In my little experience, to win this competition you have to overcome situations like those in football," Guardiola said in his post-game remarks. So you have to do two games really well. We did really well on the first one, you have to do that on the second. It's a good test to show our personality as a team and we will go there to win the game."

Read

Foden shines on the big stage as defiant Real Madrid refuse to admit defeat

Manchester City could have grabbed the visitors in the first hour but Karim Benzema's Panenka is preparing the return to the Bernabéu (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridAfter fifteen minutes at the Etihad Stadium, Phil Foden did something wonderful on a night when that entire lighted stage seemed to ripple and tremble. In search of a high, lost, soaring pass destined for the stands, Foden sped off, pounding his feet on the turf, calibrating angles and arcs, and pulling that soaring pass out of the sky like a man caught with a stick conjuring down the moon . His first touch muffled it, his second sent it gushing right through the sea of ​​lost souls formerly known as the Real Madrid Defence. A mess of flailing limbs almost bundled a third city goal into their own net. At this point that tie looked done, Real Madrid looked done, impaled, Foden right in the middle of his own brilliant, crucial little spot of light. Elite football, we are told, is a matter of fine detail. Elite football is a suffocation. A little over an hour later, Karim Benzema paused on the same side of the pitch, went to the penalty spot and sent the ball up the soft Manchester air again, completing another gentle arc over Ederson's prone form. Benzema's second goal had pulled the score – let's get this right – back to 4-3. And on the padded seats in front of the press box, the Madrid contingent jumped up and roared and punched the air, less celebrating than laughing, peacocking, reddened with some sort of acknowledgment. Yes, we are Real Madrid. City will be happy but also insanely frustrated to lead this game at the Bernabéu next week by an odd goal from seven. Maybe they put that tie away during opening hours. Instead, the team craving control went in Madrid's place. And in the end, this was a tale of moments - so, so many moments - divided between Foden's early brilliance; and the craft of Benzema, the will of these royal meringues. There is no reasonable way to read a game like this or predict what might come in the second leg. Foden probably deserved to be picked for City if only because he couldn't have played better on a stage like this. This was an epiphany on a night where the Etihad had felt a little underwhelmed at kick-off, as if the size of that game had crept onto the pitch. City was smooth and crisp early on. After two minutes, Riyad Mahrez took a pass with that special Mahrez swizzle touch, a snap of the bottom of his boot, and just spun through Madrid's entire left side. Mahrez looked up and rolled into a training ground pass for Kevin De Bruyne to head the ball down and into the corner. Foden scored the second goal. That was shockingly bad from Madrid, the defense whizzing aside like the paper saloon doors of a western set. Foden is a footballer who seems to have a fundamental advantage in his relationship with gravity at moments like snooping around Fede Valverde, a greater lock-in in those sensitive feet. He fed De Bruyne, whose low cross to Gabriel Jesus was turned into a scalpel-like submission when David Alaba fell. And moments later, City opened up that ridiculous Real Madrid imitation once more, De Bruyne, Jesus and Foden running from the halfway line three abreast like a 60m sprint. De Bruyne timed his pass to Foden just right. The touch was good enough, the shot went wide of the far post. After 33 minutes, the team to be wrapped, unwrapped, trimmed and quartered were right back in the game thanks to Benzema, with just enough time and space to take Ferland Mendy's pass and finish like a prince. Real Madrid is a terrible football team. Real Madrid is a brilliant football team. Real Madrid is a brittle wafer-thin thing. Real Madrid is as tough as iron. One of the main benefits of believing in your own divine right to the myth of kings is that this thing is never really over. The second half bought more mania, more uncontrolled surges of energy. Foden scored from Fernandino's cross and then made his way into the corner with a seemingly endless knee slide, a man who seems to yearn for this tournament to drink these nights like a sweet puff of hot air. Vinícius Júnior scored a wonderful, driving second place for Madrid. And Madrid will go into the second leg all the happier, aware that this was a night where, despite all the cuts, in the end City seemed to be playing someone else's game, high up in that exciting white light.

Read

Real Madrid refuse to die while Man City regret missed chances

As they've proved on numerous occasions in this knockout round, Real Madrid don't have to be at their best to fight their way back into a Champions League game (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridLast season, Manchester City probably had as good a finisher as English football has ever seen on their way to their first Champions League final. A year later, Sergio Aguero watched that semi-final from his man cave, watching wave after wave of attacks from his old team-mates and describing Madrid's defense as 'a sieve'. "Water goes everywhere," he told his Twitch followers. Our esteemed Radio Marca colleagues, seated in the back row of Etihad's press box, watched the first half hour of devastating City failures and Madrid's bewildered defense with a combination of fear and sadness. However, Madrid very rarely melts down completely. Often referred to as the all-seeing, all-powerful, all-knowing emperors of this competition, in their modern form they are actually much more like Rasputin. You have to make sure that there is absolutely no turning back for a team that goes to their grave with a two meter high stepladder. City scored four goals, the earliest after just 94 seconds, three minutes earlier than against Watford at the weekend. It's hard to say which was better or a more complete representation of the exciting style they've perfected over the last six years under Pep Guardiola. They left Etihad with absolutely no doubt that they are better than Madrid at their best. But, as they've proved on numerous occasions in this knockout round, Madrid don't need to be at their best. City didn't want to be left with the sense of regret they experienced after the top-flight clash against Liverpool earlier in that epic month in east Manchester. Guardiola lamented they "left her alive" despite a brilliant performance against Jurgen Klopp's side in a 1-1 draw. This will go down in the record books as a 4-3 win, but it's a result that still gives Madrid any chance of reaching the Paris final, despite the fact that they could have been blown away. There are three reasons why they weren't, and the first, as usual, boils down to a questionable Guardiola play. True to his form, he undermined all expectations, but still by playing John Stones at right-back. The muscular problem he had nursed for a week was better. At least that's what Stone's Guardiola said. Despite being joined at times by Bernardo Silva, he didn't look out of place in that dominant first half hour. But shortly after Karim Benzema's first goal - a goal that came from City's right side - he had to be replaced. City would eventually have to play with a makeshift right-back. Fernandinho, who turns 38 on the day of the second leg next week, would have to spend an hour tagging the Livewire Vinicius. And while City club captain Phil Foden lined up for City's third, that mismatch on City's right was directly responsible for Madrid's second. Vinicius' half dummy, half nutmeg Fernandinho before his miraculous finish. The goal wasn't Fernandinho's or Guardiola's fault, rather the result of a short and severe string of injuries and suspensions at one particular position, but City have chosen to run with a small squad that lacks versatile players this season and that are the consequences. But just as responsible was City's waste in front of goal. As against Liverpool, they kept their rivals alive by the sheer volume of spurned chances. Guardiola was a picture of anger when, with the score 2-0, Riyad Mahrez decided to shoot into the side netting from a tight angle rather than find Foden. You've wondered what Aguero and his Twitch followers might be thinking as those opportunities faded. But perhaps there was nothing more City could do in the face of opposition. Perhaps a one-goal lead is actually as much as you can expect. If you play the 13-time champions in the semi-finals of this competition, Benzema might get the exceptional finish for their first. Vinicius will inevitably hit the entire right side. A composed defender like Ayermic Laporte will handle the ball unnecessarily. City will feel like they left Madrid very much alive.

Read