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#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

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#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City
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Manchester City suffered an astonishing late capitulation at Real Madrid as the Spanish giants set-up a Champions League final against Liverpool – a repeat of the 2018 showpiece.

#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez had appeared to be the hero for Pep Guardiola’s side with his strike in the 73 rd minute flying past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to give City the lead on the night and a seemingly unassailable two-goal aggregate lead after a timid encounter.

 

However, the hosts – who had not had a shot on target for 90 minutes – improbably turned the tie on its head as Rodrygo Goes scored twice inside the space of 84 seconds to send the game into extra time, before Karim Benzema’s penalty gave them the lead in the tie for the first time.

#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Over the weekend, Real Madrid won their 35th La Liga title and the celebrations went long into the evening in the Spanish capital as the players and management of Los Blancos savoured the triumph with their fanbase before attentions immediately turned to this game and their pursuit of a fifth Champions League crown in nine seasons.

Also: UCL: Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City – Goal Highlights [DOWNLOAD VIDEO]

City edged out Los Blancos in Manchester last week in a seven-goal thriller and that ensured that the Premier League champions were marginal favourites to advance through to the final, but this clash in Madrid was entirely different – with a first half scarce on any clearcut goal scoring opportunities.

#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

The home side, pressed with the urgency of needing a goal, provided the greater goal threat but were unable to force Ederson into any saves. Their timid approach was punished when Mahrez fired home with 17 minutes remaining.

 

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That had appeared to be that, before one of football’s most miraculous passages of play. Real Madrid had not had a shot on target in 90 minutes, but just as the game ticked into injury time they did, and they had a goal. Rodrygo was the scorer and all of a sudden, there was palpable hope inside the stadium. 84 seconds later, they had another on target. Rodrygo again. His header beat Ederson and somehow, some way, sent the game into extra-time with City reeling.

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#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Five minutes into added time and Real Madrid were awarded a penalty after Ruben Dias caught Benzema in the area, with the Frenchman coolly sending Ederson the wrong way from the penalty spot. Here are six talking points from the Santiago Bernabeu on an unforgettable evening.

#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Madrid madness

Rodrygo Goes heads home his second goal in the space of 84 unbelievable seconds to down Man City

No matter how many nails are in their coffin, Real Madrid simply do not die. Karim Benzema’s 17-minute hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain stunned the French side in the Round of 16 to transform the game. Chelsea were 3-0 up in the Spanish capital the following round and totally dominant, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side, against all the odds, turned that around too.

 

But nobody could have foreseen this. Trailing 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate, without a shot on target in the second leg and the game ticking into injury time. Substitute Jack Grealish spurned two glorious chances to put further gloss on the scoreline but twice was inches out. Real Madrid were dead. Finished. Eliminated. Oh wait, this is Real Madrid.

#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Rodrygo scored twice in less than a minute-and-a-half and it may take some time for anyone to fully digest and analyse exactly how that happened, but it can partly be explained by the magic of the Santiago Bernabeu and the remarkable reserves of self-belief of Real Madrid. Lets not try to explain it just now.

 

Casemiro changes Carlo’s plan

Casemiro added extra steel to Real Madrid’s midfield

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#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

In the first leg, Real Madrid badly missed Casemiro in the heart of their midfield – the Brazilian who so often shields their defensive line. He returned to action tonight and it was no surprise that there were notably fewer gaps in midfield and less end-to-end action. Casemiro, as is so often the case in La Liga, escaped two notable calls for yellow cards in the first half.

 

Crucially, Casemiro’s replacement for the first leg Fede Valverde remained in the side with Brazilian forward Rodrygo Goes the player to make way. That meant Carlo Ancelotti instead started with four natural midfielders in a clear signal that they were taking far fewer risks in this with more control and keeping the tie evenly poised until late.

 

As Ancelotti said on Tuesday ahead of the game: “The collective is most important, to move together, to be compact. We have worked on that, improving defensively, and I believe you will see that tomorrow.”

 

Walker’s running key

Walker’s battle with Vinicius was absorbing throughout the game

 

It was not just Real Madrid who had a key player back available, but the return of both Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo for Pep Guardiola’s side was key. Full-backs are so important to City’s style of play and their absence was noted across the first leg, when midfielders Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho finished the game in those positions.

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In Manchester, Vinicius Jnr predictably got a lot of joy against the ageing Fernandinho, who was clearly less than comfortable in the position. Indeed, Real Madrid’s second goal in that encounter came from Vinicius breaking directly against Fernandinho before firing home. Walker’s recovery pace was crucial against the Brazilian forward in the first half. Walker’s second half injury was a concern for City and preceded their late collapse.

 

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Carlo Ancelotti had already completed a remarkable coaching achievement this season. Over the weekend he became the first boss to win a top flight in each of Europe’s top five leagues – Spain, Germany, Italy, France and England.

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The second achievement he had been aiming for was to become the first coach to reach five Champions League finals. He managed Milan to the finals in 2003, 2005 and 2007, then reached it with Real Madrid in 2014. Aside from 2005, the Italian has guided his side to victory on each occasion. Despite not being favourites in this tie, Ancelotti’s side had remained alive for this second leg and then enjoyed this most stunning of comebacks to accomplish his feat.

Madrid’s lost stars

It is now no longer any surprise that none of Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic or Isco are in the starting line-up for Real Madrid’s most important matches. The first two are the club’s record signings while striker Jovic and playmaker Isco were also notable investments by Los Blancos.

 

The quartet of players are among football’s highest earners but not only were they not involved from the start here, but that is no longer newsworthy nor are they considered even as potential impact substitutions. None of Isco, Hazard nor Bale were even on the bench here.

 

Young Brazilian forward Rodrygo Goes, teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, former Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos and utility man Lucas Vazquez are among those who currently hold greater prominence at the club.

 

Fortress Bernabeu?

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#RMAMCI: 6 Talking Points From Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City

Real Madrid and the Santiago Bernabeu are synonymous with the Champions League and its knockout stages, but the club’s home record in the competition in recent times has not been strong. Indeed, going into tonight – Los Blancos had lost more games than they had won in the stadium in the competition across its last 11 matches.

 

Of course, the club played at their Valdebebas reserve ground last season as major reconstruction work was carried but in their last 11 games at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League, CSKA Moscow, Ajax, Man City (in 2020, Round of 16), Sheriff Tiraspol and Chelsea had all tasted victory here, while Club Brugge and PSG had secured draws.

 

Yet tonight’s remarkable turnaround followed those against PSG and Chelsea – so despite patchy home results and performances, there is a magic about this club and this stadium which does not seem to be replicated anywhere else.

 

Luka Modric squared up to Aymeric Laporte and Man City star embarrassed himself

 

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