The Champions League returned as holders Real Madrid and Manchester City drew 1-1 in their semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday.
The visitors controlled the pitch in the opening half with a staggering 74% possession after 25 minutes, and the hosts were eager to let City control the game.
Kevin De Bruyne called international team-mate Thibaut Courtois into a save before the goalkeeper also denied Rodrigo. A rising Erling Haaland then had a soft shot and a header saved near the 15-minute mark.
Meanwhile, Madrid’s attack was lifeless, with only one shot in the first half – though it proved decisive.
After Ruben Dias cleared the ball away thanks to a perfectly timed tackle, the hosts scored against the run of play when Luka Modrić set Eduardo Camavinga on the counter, and Vinícius struck from range for 1-0.
Coming out into the second half Manchester City tried to retake control of the pitch, with Courtois denying De Bruyne an equaliser before David Alaba’s late block stopped Haaland.
That was until a little bit of deja vu occurred. Madrid dominated possession with 69% of the ball in the second opening 20 minutes, but in the blink of an eye, City drew 1-1.
De Bruyne mirrored Vinícius’ goal and his powerful effort from range was too much for Courtois and nestled in the net.
With time running out, the match continued to be a nervy affair. Benzema was inches away from another for Madrid, but Ederson’s strong hand denied his header and then later a long-range effort from Aurélien Tchouaméni.
The result means there is still everything to play for in the second leg, with the potential for either European giant to bow out.
Real Madrid player ratings
GK – Thibaut Courtois – 6/10 – Made a brilliant save to deny De Bruyne at the start of the second half.
RB – Dani Carvajal – 6/10 – Had a bit of a kicking and shoving match with Grealish for 90 minutes; something which suited Real Madrid more than it suited Man City.
CB – Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 – Matched Haaland physically.
CB – David Alaba – 6/10 – Pulled of a great tackle at the start of the second half. There was a reason Haaland didn’t really go to his side too often.
LB – Eduardo Camavinga – 8/10 – Worked hard defensively and provided a lung-bursting run which led to the opening goal at the other end.
CM – Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Played a deeper-than-usual role and it did well.
CM – Toni Kroos – 5/10 – Decent on the ball but not quite got the legs anymore.
CM – Luka Modric – 8/10 – Another stunning performance from the 37-year-old.
RW – Rodrygo – 3/10 – He didn’t do a massive amount to be honest.
ST – Karim Benzema – 6/10 – His clever movement caused Man City’s defence a whole host of problems.
LW – Vinicius Junior – 9/10 – Scored a sublime goal. Truly sublime. Man City couldn’t get near him all evening.
Marco Asensio – 5/10.
Aurelien Tchouameni – 5/10.
Nacho Fernandez – N/A.
Manager – Carlo Ancelotti – 6/10 – Put his best XI out there and they played pretty well. Playing Camavinga at left-back has been a masterstroke in recent months.
Man City player ratings
GK – Ederson – 6/10 – Made good saves to deny Benzema and Tchouameni late on.
CB – Kyle Walker – 4/10 – Drafted in to go toe-to-toe with Vinicius. It’s fair to say Vinicius got the better of him.
CB – Ruben Dias – 6/10 – Pulled off a stunning, goal-saving, clearance in the 25th minute.
CB – Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – Pocketed Rodrygo for most of the game.
DM – John Stones – 6/10 – Worked his socks off to fill in the gaps defensively.
DM – Rodri – 6/10 – Had a few ropey moments in possession but battled hard out of it.
RM – Bernardo Silva – 4/10 – Not quite as effective as he was in the quarter-final first leg.
CM – Kevin De Bruyne – 9/10 – Scored a superb goal when City looked devoid of ideas.
CM – Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – Teed up KDB for the equaliser.
LM – Jack Grealish – 2/10 – He let Carvajal get the better of him on the night. A poor outing at both ends of the pitch.
ST – Erling Haaland – 4/10 – Rudiger and Alaba kept him eerily quiet.
Manager – Pep Guardiola – 5/10 – Perhaps made a point to his players by not making a single substitution in the game. It probably wasn’t the best idea though as City looked super leggy late on.