Manchester City and Inter both advanced on aggregate in the last set of Champions League quarterfinal clashes. Even though the results on the night were not perfect, previous victories for both the English and Italian clubs did enough.
Manchester City rocked Bayern Munich in the first leg, 3-0. A dysfunctional Bayern side had no answers for the high-flying Manchester City. On the same Tuesday, Inter Milan picked up a 2-0 win on the road against Benfica. While Inter continues to dip in form domestically, it had a massive advantage in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Those deficits proved too tall of a task for both Benfica and Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
City and Inter do enough to get to Champions League semifinals
Manchester City contains Bayern
The story of the first half between Manchester City and Bayern Munich was Dayot Upamecano. The Bayern center-back had a nightmare in the first leg, as he was responsible, directly at times, for multiple Manchester City goals. His nightmare tie could have continued on several occasions.
For one, he committed a foul on Erling Haaland during a goal-scoring opportunity, which earned him a red card. However, Manchester City was offside in the play. Then, Upamecano gave away a penalty on an Ilkay Gundogan shot. Haaland, on pace for one of the most successful scoring seasons in history, blasted the ball over the crossbar. The game was level at the break, but City held its 3-0 lead on aggregate.
Haaland redeemed himself 12 minutes after the restart. After Manchester City cleared a dangerous Bayern attack, Kevin de Bruyne played Haaland into a one-on-one against Upamecano. Haaland dropped the center-back and knocked the ball over the oncoming Yann Sommer. It was Haaland’s 12th goal in eight Champions League appearances, leading all players in the competition.
Bayern thought it at least pulled one back when Mathys Tel had the ball in the City net. However, offside ruled out a goal for the 17-year-old, capitulating a torrid evening for the hosts. A suspect penalty decision allowed Joshua Kimmich to break the doughnut on Bayern’s end. However, Manchester City was too strong. The 1-1 draw sent Manchester City through, 4-1 on aggregate.
Manchester City advances to play Real Madrid in one of the most-anticipated ties in recent Champions League history. The favorite in this year’s competition goes up against the defending champion and the most successful side in Champions League history.
Inter gets by Benfica
The first 45 minutes of the Inter-Benfica second leg were fairly exciting. Benfica needed to push at the San Siro to have any chance of reviving the tie, but it was Inter to strike first. Nicolo Barella dribbled the ball into the Benfica box. He chopped back onto his left foot and placed a perfect shot into the top corner of Odysseas Vlachodimos’s net. The finish gave Inter a 3-0 lead on aggregate, which was perhaps too much for Benfica.
To be fair to the visitors, though, Benfica responded before the 45 expired. Frederik Aursnes latched to a Rafa Silva cross and brought the Portuguese side level on the night. At the same time, it produced a lifeline for Benfica to get back into the tie.
Inter restored its three-goal lead on aggregate in the 65th minute. Federico Dimarco played a low-driven ball across the face of the Benfica goal. Awaiting the cross was Lautaro Martinez, who bashed it into the roof of the net. The goal all but guaranteed Inter advanced to the semifinals of the competition. A third goal on the night, and a fifth on aggregate, got the party started in Milan. Benfica did add two late goals, but that did not keep up with the scoring of Inter Milan, as a 3-3 draw on the night sent Inter through on aggregate, 5-3.
Now, fans are treated to a pair of Milan derbies in the Champions League semifinals. While the two battle for fourth in Serie A this season, it is the third time the two Milan clubs meet in the Champions League. On both occasions, Milan advanced. The last time was in 2005 in the quarterfinals. That year, Milan lost in the Champions League Final in Istanbul, the same location as the final in 2023.
PHOTO: IMAGO / kolbertpress
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