Champions League: Manchester City trump Real Madrid in seven-goal thriller
Manchester City were two goals up on three occasions before beating Real Madrid 4-3 in a UEFA Champions League thriller on Tuesday, a result which leaves the tie wide open.
Karim Benzema kept Real Madrid’s chances intact as the France striker scored a brace in his 600th game for the Spanish league leaders for a tournament-leading tally of 14.
Last year’s finalists Manchester City led 2-0 after 11 minutes as Kevin de Bruyne nodded home in the second minute before setting up Gabriel Jesus in this semi-final first-leg tie.
Benzema got Real Madrid back into the game in the 33rd minute, while Phil Foden made it 3-1 in the 53rd minute.
But record winners Real Madrid hit back again two minutes later from Vinicius Junior.
Benzema’s second goal of the night came from an 82nd-minute penalty kick, leaving Real Madrid well-positioned even after Bernardo Silva’s fourth for Manchester City.
The return leg is next week Wednesday in Madrid where Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola is bidding to become the first manager to oust Real Madrid three times in the elite event.
He did so with FC Barcelona in the 2011 semi-finals and with Manchester City in 2020 last 16.
“It was a great game. End to end. We started really well and could have killed them off. In these games, we need to take more chances,” Foden said. “For the fans watching it was obviously a great game of football. We are playing a side that have won the UEFA Champions League many times and if we give the ball away they are going to punish us. It is something we need to work on in the second leg. The tie is still on.”
Benzema, on his part, said, “A defeat is never good because we are really excited about the UEFA Champions League. The most important thing is we never lay down our arms. We are all in this until the end. Now we have to go to the Bernabéu and we will need our fans like never and we are going to do something magical, which is to win.”
Things looked grim for Real Madrid early.
That was when de Bruyne’s diving header at the far post off Riyad Mahrez’ cross and Jesus’ low shot off the Belgian playmaker put Manchester City 2-0 up after 11 minutes.
But Real Madrid hit back in the 33rd minute when Benzema fired Ferland Mendy’s cross in off the post.
The affair remained relentless after the break, with Mahrez denied by the post before Foden headed home Fernandinho’s cross for 3-1.
Real Madrid hit back again a mere two minutes later from Vinicius Junior, who first beat Fernandinho for the ball.
He then beat goalkeeper Ederson with a low shot after a solo across half the field.
Silva smashed Manchester City’s fourth into the top left corner in the 74th minute.
But Real Madrid simply refused to bow. Benzema showed nerves like steel a few days after missing two penalty kicks in the league against Osasuna.
He calmly converted Panenka-style from the spot after a Laporte handball to add a brace to his hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the last 16.
The Frenchman also had four goals against now-former titleholders Chelsea in the quarter-finals.
The other first-leg game is on Wednesday, and it is also an English-Spanish affair, with Liverpool hosting surprise package Villarreal.
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