It finished honours even between Real Madrid and Manchester City in their Champions League semi-final first leg tonight in the Spanish capital.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City side started in brilliant fashion, with Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri stinging the palms of Real’s keeper Thibaut Courtois from outside the area early on.
Prolific striker Erling Haaland then announced himself to the Bernabeu with a couple of decent efforts that Courtois once again had to be alert to.
Despite City’s dominance, Real are always a threat and on 24 minutes Ruben Dias had to superbly intercept a Vinicius Junior cross that the Brazilian’s partner-in-crime Karim Benzema looked destined to tap home.
That piece of attacking play from the home side would be a prelude to what was to come, when Vinicius drove forward and hammered a thunderous strike into the top corner from 25 yards out in the 35th minute.
Vinicius Jr this season:
⚽️ 23 goals
🎯 21 assists
🇧🇷 WHAT A TALENT! pic.twitter.com/cftXd4XVYO
— Football Talk (@FootballTalkHQ) May 9, 2023
Just after half-time Real almost made it two when Benzema shot just over after a slick period of passing by the reigning European Champions.
City came within a whisker of equalising a couple of minutes later when De Bruyne raced through on goal, but the Belgian would be denied by a brilliant one-on-one stop by his countryman Courtois.
De Bruyne was nowhere near the level we are used to seeing in the Premier League, although on 67 minutes the 31-year-old showed everyone his world-class ability by firing home a sublime equaliser. IIkay Gundogan laid the ball off to De Bruyne on the edge of the area and the playmaker drilled home the sweetest of low strikes into the bottom corner.
Kevin De Bruyne was overwhelmed by emotion 🥺 pic.twitter.com/vmZP9ptUQg
— GOAL (@goal) May 9, 2023
Both sides pushed on in search of a winner but this enthralling match would end all square and is perfectly poised ahead of the second leg at the Etihad next week. Speaking afterwards City boss Guardiola admitted it was a tight game and he is hopeful his side can play even better next week back in Manchester.
” When we were better they score. When they were better we score. Tight, tight game,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
”The Bernabeu in the semi-final, sometimes we had good moments and sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have on the ball. Final next Wednesday at home with our people.
“We started really well in second half as well and then after they got the game we could not take it. They play a lot of passes on the left and they are really good there but then we score a fantastic goal through Kevin [De Bruyne] and had good moments and then at the end they had a few good chances.
“They are so demanding, with the experience and quality. We are travelling to Manchester and we will see what we can do better.
“When you play this kind of game it is like a play-off, hopefully we can learn and do even better.”
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