Bale flies past City in Champions League

With Atlético Madrid sneaking past Bayern Munich on Tuesday, there was a chance that we could have our second all Madrid Champions League final in three years. The only thing standing in the way was Real Madrid’s visit from Manchester City. Last week at the Etihad Stadium, fine defensive displays from both sides kept the score line blank at 0-0. The Cityzens went into the match with a slight advantage after keeping Real off the score sheet in the first leg. Technically, all City needed to do was score a single goal to give them a massive advantage through away goals, but no team had managed to score at the Santiago Bernabéu in Europe this season. Would Manuel Pellegrini’s side become the first?

Things didn’t start out well for Manchester City as their captain, Vincent Kompany, was forced out through injury just eight minutes into the match. The Belgian defender has struggled with injuries all season, and this time it was a non-contact injury that brought him to the ground. Certainly not the way the visitors wanted to begin in the Spanish capital.

In the 20th minute, Real Madrid found the opener. Luka Modric played Gareth Bale through on the right wing, but the Welsh winger still had a lot of work to do. His effort at the near post could have either been a cross or a shot, but either way it took a heavy deflection off of Fernando and sailed over Joe Hart into the back of the net. It would later be ruled an own goal by Fernando, and it now forced City to break from their defensive shell in search of an equalizer.

15 minutes later, it looked as if Sergio Ramos had doubled Madrid’s lead from Toni Kroos’ free kick, but the effort was called back by an off sides call. The hosts continued to push for an early dagger with Marcelo and Bale both testing their luck, but neither was good enough to find the back of the net. City’s best chance of the half came in the 44th minute when Fernandinho’s powerful low drive struck the outside of the post before harmlessly going out of bounds. When the whistle blew, Madrid were still holding on to a one-goal lead, and City were left with a lot of work to do in the second half.

Six minutes into the half, Modric had the chance to double Madrid’s lead. The Croatian was played in by his former Tottenham teammate Bale, and looked certain to hammer home past Joe Hart. An awkward touch made for an awkward shot however, and the City keeper made a big save. Minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo would force Hart into another fine save from a header. How much more could Hart save before Madrid scored again?

Bale came close to finding his second of the match in the 64th minute, but his header came back off the woodwork. Ronaldo put in the ensuing cross, but decided to do his best Kobe Bryant impression by catching it and throwing it into the net. The Portuguese winger knew he was offsides and managed to avoid a yellow card for the deliberate handball.

City’s best chance of the half came in the final moments of the match. Sergio Agüero, who had been quiet for most of the match, was given too much space on the edge of the area and let rip. His shot flew towards the net and past Keylor Navas, but was just too high as it skimmed the roof of the net.

Agüero’s close call was the last moment of worry for Zinedine Zidane’s squad as they held on for a narrow 1-0 victory. Fernando’s own goal would prove to be all Real needed to secure a spot in their 14th European Final, and now we will witness a rematch of the 2014 Final between the two Madrid clubs. Last time, Real beat their local rivals 4-1 in extra time, but will they be able to pull off a similar result this time around?


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