May 10 – In a tense and hard-fought fought match, Manchester City held Real Madrid 1-1 in the semi-finals of the Champions following superb strikes by Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne either side of halftime.
In a replay of last season’s blockbuster semi-final encounter, the reigning European champions were hosting the English champions again and with neither team willing to give up an advantage the first fiercely contested 90 minutes.
At the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, City held the upper hand in the first half but it was Vinicius Junior who opened the score in the 36th minute with a brilliant strike following a quick counterattack by the hosts. It sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy and boosted Real Madrid’s confidence.
But after the break, out of nowhere, City levelled the score with an equally brilliant goal by Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian scored a crucial goal for the English, much in the absence of the in-form striker Erling Haaland, who was kept quiet all evening. The Belgian’s strike keeps his club’s dream of a treble alive.
“An interesting game,” said Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. “Difficult for us in the first half and the second half was much better. We had good control in the game. When they had lots of possession we were in control defensively then when we started to play the ball we caused difficulties.”
“We had to keep our positions defensively then when we got the opportunity, we scored the first goal.”
Real Madrid will travel to Manchester with confidence, but City are now unbeaten in 21 games in all competitions.
City midfielder Rodri hailed the performance of De Bruyne. “In the first 25-30 minutes we controlled the game and then first chance they have, they scored an incredible goal. But we kept in the game even though it was difficult to get in with the way they defend. Kevin [De Bruyne] found the goal and then in the last minutes, we tried to keep the ball.
“He [Kevin de Bruyne] is a massive player for us. Always he has been great and he helped us in the moment we most needed it. We were suffering a bit because they were keeping the ball and with the goal he gave us the confidence to keep pushing. It is a good result for us.”
Tonight crosstown rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan will face off in the second semi-final. Next week the return legs will decide who wins a coveted ticket to the final in Istanbul on June 10.
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