Real Madrid defeated Manchester City on penalty kicks to advance to yet another Champions League semifinal. Following their 3-3 thriller at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg, this contest at the Etihad was a win-or-go-home affair. Also, it was a rematch of last season’s semifinal. After drawing in the first leg, Manchester City thumped Real Madrid with a 4-0 win. Real Madrid got its revenge on Wednesday night. 

Rodrygo silences Etihad with goal after 12 minutes

A tentative first half saw both sides exchange possession without much threat. That changed just after 10 minutes with a long ball over the top from the visitors. Jude Bellingham brilliantly brought the ball down before playing a pass down the line to Federico Valverde. The Uruguayan’s pass farther down the field to Vinicius and a square pass across the face of goal. Rodrygo hit the ball first time at the City net. Ederson made a sensational save, but the rebound came straight back to Rodrygo, who touched the ball into the net. Real Madrid led on the night and in the tie.

Manchester City nearly drew level at the 18-minute mark. Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin made a great save in close on Erling Haaland. The rebound allowed Manchester City to keep possession in the box, and a lofted cross into the box met a rising Haaland, who headed the ball onto the crossbar. The deflection fell to Bernardo Silva who could not sort the chance at his feet and the ball went out for a goal kick.

Manchester City, as expected, dominated possession in the first half. There were lackluster chances to pull level, but Real Madrid’s low block soaked up most of City’s pressure. At times, Manchester City looked vulnerable on the counter. Still, in the first half, Real Madrid scored the only goal at the Etihad. 

Manchester City responds with second-half equalizer

 The hosts certainly had more of the ball to start the second half. Some of that control led to chances. For example, Jack Grealish had a great volley that was directly at Lunin, who pushed the ball away. Phil Foden, who scored a brace at the Santiago Bernabeu, forced another save out of the Ukrainian just four minutes later. Also, Nacho Fernandez nearly put the ball into his own net before sweeping away a clearance.

The fact remained that much of Manchester City’s possession was not overly threatening to Real Madrid. The Premier League side forced corners and lobbed the ball from side to side to find an opening. Yet, Real Madrid did enough. At the 70-minute mark, Jack Grealish stung the palms of Lunin, but the goalkeeper pounced on the rebound. It was a summation of what had transpired at the Etihad. On-site commentator summed it up with 15 minutes left.

“Every door that Manchester City opens is slammed in their face.”

One of the doors allowed City to burst through, though. Jeremy Doku replaced Grealish on the left side of the City attack and made an instant impact. The slick-footed winger released a cross that Antonio Rudiger slid to deflect. Kevin De Bruyne was there to take advantage, and he pumped the ball into the roof of the net. The game and tie were level with just 15 minutes left in the 90.

The Belgian midfielder was all over the game from that point on. One near-miss with a left-footed shot barely flew over the crossbar from 20 yards away. Then, a seemingly easy opportunity went begging when De Bruyne’s wild shot from eight yards away missed the net entirely.  

Real Madrid advances to another Champions League semifinal

With the tie level at four goals per team, extra time ensued. Once again City held the lion’s share of the ball. Several chances came to the hosts, but none of those truly threatened breaking the deadlock. Moreover, the best chance came against the run of play with Real Madrid. A scramble after a corner led to a rare bit of possession in the Manchester City half. A cross into the box was not dealt with, and Antonio Rudiger was on the end of it. The German showed why he plays defense as his shot rose up and over the crossbar as a massive missed chance. 

The second half of extra time was a tired affair. A 15-minute slog did not have great chances as players on both teams dragged out the game. Penalties ensued.

After Julian Alvarez opened the shootout with a converted spot-kick, Ederson denied Luka Modric to give City the edge. However, Lunin responded with back-to-back saves on Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic as Jude Bellingham and Lucas Vazquez scored. Real Madrid never relinquished that lead, as Antonio Rudiger banked his spot-kick off the post to send Real Madrid through.

The 14-time champions will now face a familiar foe in Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League.