Real Madrid 1-1 Man City: Champions League tie in the balance after Vinicius Jr and Kevin De Bruyne stunners
Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant strike earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to keep the Champions League semi-final tie firmly in the balance.
Whoever comes out on top at the Etihad next week will be strong favourites to lift the trophy on June 10, with this a battle between a side still craving their first Champions League success and another who have won the competition a record 14 times.
That experience from Real was on full display in the first-half, their rope-a-dope tactics working to fine effect. City dominated possession, territory and every other stat aside from the one that matters, as the hosts broke away and took the lead through a superb Vinicius Jr strike from distance.
However, a similarly impressive effort from De Bruyne got Pep Guardiola’s side level after the break, and they will feel they have the slight advantage heading back to Manchester as they look to down the defending champions.
City brought the likes of Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Rodri back into the side after they were rested against Leeds, while Kyle Walker was called upon to combat the pace of Vinicius. Real had Luka Modric and Antonio Rudiger return to the starting lineup.
The visitors dominated possession from the opening moments, Real incredibly passive in sitting back and waiting for their opportunities on the break. Erling Haaland had a couple of tame efforts saved, before Rodri forced Thibaut Courtois into more strenous action with a strike from distance.
It was almost too easy for City, the only danger how comfortable it was, yet Real, out of nowhere, took the lead. Modric’s flick found Eduardo Camavinga, who drove away from the City players and played the ball inside to Vinicius. One touch took the ball out of his feet, a second sent a stunning strike beyond Ederson from 20 yards out and Real moved in front with their only shot of the half.
De Bruyne tested Courtois after the break, but Real were far more of a consistent threat and threatened to double their advantage. Karim Benzema fired an effort just over the bar, while Vinicius and Rodrygo continued to cause the City defence huge problems.
Just like City in the first-half though, a spell of dominance was swiftly ended by a sensational finish at the other end. Ilkay Gundogan played the ball back to De Bruyne, who ran onto it and lashed a strike that this time had the beating of his international team-mate in goal.
Twelve months ago, Rodrygo scored twice in 90 seconds of stoppage-time against City to send the semi-final tie to extra-time, where Benzema struck to leave the English side shell-shocked and crashing out of the Champions League. There was no repeat of that late drama this time though, with it all to be decided in Manchester.