Posted by News Express | 27 February 2020 | 1,504 times
Kevin De Bruyne orchestrated a dramatic Manchester City comeback on Wednesday as they stunned Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to put one foot in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Madrid looked on course to edge a cagey contest after Isco's smart finish early in the second half, but De Bruyne teed up Gabriel Jesus in the 78th minute and then tucked away a penalty in the 83rd.
A pulsating finish also saw Sergio Ramos sent off for preventing Jesus from going clear and Madrid's captain will now be banned for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 17, when City's two away goals will make them heavy favourites to go through.
"We tried to come here to win the game and we did. This is just the first part. If one team can overcome this situation, it's this club," City coach Pep Guardiola said.
"When we were better, we conceded a goal. When they were bettter, we scored a goal. That's football."
Guardiola sprung another Champions League surprise by picking a line-up nobody predicted, with De Bruyne up front and Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho all on the bench.
But his gamble paid off handsomely, even if Nicolas Otamendi made the mistake that led to Isco's opener while an injury to Aymeric Laporte meant Fernandinho had to be introduced midway through the first half.
Laporte was seen walking around the pitch but must now be doubtful to play in Sunday's League Cup final against Aston Villa.
Guardiola insisted on Tuesday that Uefa's two-year ban, pending City's appeal, would not act as a spur for his players but it was very much on the minds of their travelling fans, who were singing against European football's governing body from almost the first minute.
Either way, City now have a golden opportunity to make a statement by knocking out Real Madrid, the competition's most successful club in its history.
Zinedine Zidane's team was more predictable, even if Toni Kroos, one of his most consistent performers, was left on the bench.
These are the sort of nights when Gareth Bale can find his best but Vinicius Junior took the spot on the left.
The opening half was tentative, summed up by Ederson at one point playing for time by stalling on the ball and being allowed to by Madrid, who also refused to press him.
If both team's priority was to stifle, they were largely successful as City seemed content to let Madrid have the ball, as long as Jesus and Riyad Mahrez were ready to race away on the break.
Jesus cut inside Raphael Varane and had a clear sight of goal only to shoot straight at Thibaut Courtois. On the stroke of halftime, the Brazilian struck again, this time after a weak Thibaut Courtois punch, but Ramos blocked and Fede Valverde hacked away from the line.
In between, Real went close too. Karim Benzema's header was palmed out by Ederson and Vinicius looked certain to tap in the rebound yet slipped at the crucial moment, five yards out and with the goal at his mercy.
Laporte had gone off but City enjoyed their best spell after the break.
Casemiro carelessly conceded possession and De Bruyne tore away, feeding Mahrez, who cut in and curled wide. Jesus drove another shot straight at Courtois.
Zidane considered a change and Bale warmed up, only for Madrid to take the lead.
Otamendi failed to control a Rodri pass and Vinicius broke, with Kyle Walker and Fernandinho rushing to meet him.
They left Isco free behind them and Vinicius picked him out, giving the Spaniard a simple finish.
The hosts smelt an opportunity for a second as Dani Carvajal weaved through and Ramos' volley was deflected over by Fernandino.
But Bale and Sterling both came on and shortly after, the tide turned.
In the 78th minute, De Bruyne's clipped cross was too high for Ramos at the back post and Jesus behind him nodded down, his header enough to beat a weak right hand from Courtois.
And five minutes later, City scored again, this time Carvajal at fault, sliding late on Sterling in the area. De Bruyne made no mistake with the penalty and it was City's fans still singing, long after the final whistle.
Elsewhere on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo drew a blank as a Lucas Tousart goal handed Lyon a surprise 1-0 win over Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in France.
Midfielder Tousart netted from close range in the 31st minute to give Lyon a lead to defend when they head to Turin for the return on March 17.
The goal came with Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt off the field receiving treatment, but it was just reward for an excellent first-half performance by a Lyon side enduring a mediocre campaign in Ligue 1.
They then survived late Juventus pressure to claim their finest European result since defeating Manchester City in last season's group stage.
Maurizio Sarri's side have genuine ambitions of winning a trophy that has evaded Juventus for almost a quarter of a century now, but they could not claim a precious away goal here, with Paulo Dybala seeing a late effort disallowed.
This match went ahead in front of a full house at the Groupama Stadium, including around 3,000 Juventus supporters who were allowed to attend despite calls from some French politicians to block their access amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus, with a significant number of cases having been recorded in northern Italy.
Those fans, and the Juve squad, would have crossed the Alps with confidence. The Serie A leaders came into this tie as overwhelming favourites against a Lyon team struggling domestically and looking like possibly the weakest team left in the competition.
The visitors' attack was led by a Ronaldo in fine shape, with the 35-year-old having scored in all nine appearances in 2020. He had netted 19 times since the beginning of December.
He and his club – who have lost five Champions League finals since last lifting the trophy in 1996 – are in a hurry to succeed in this competition.
They might have hurried into an early lead here, with a hanging Ronaldo cross in the fourth minute, aimed at Juan Cuadrado at the far post, almost dropping under the bar and in.
Lyon's home form has been especially poor this season. However, bidding to win a Champions League knockout tie for the first time in a decade, they began to gain the upper hand.
With France international Leo Dubois back after injury and new signing Bruno Guimaraes anchoring the midfield, they looked more accomplished than they have for some time.
JUVE SAVED BY WOODWORK
Karl Toko-Ekambi, another January signing, headed off the bar from a Houssem Aouar corner midway through the first half. It was a warning to Juve of what was to come.
Sarri's team found themselves temporarily down to 10 men as De Ligt was left stricken, blood streaming from a head wound, following a collision in the Lyon area.
With the young Dutchman off, Lyon pounced. Aouar was the creator with an incursion into the box from the left before he teed up Tousart to score from six yards.
With De Ligt back on, his head heavily bandaged, Lyon continued to threaten, Toko-Ekambi twice firing just off target.
Juventus sent on Gonzalo Higuain and Aaron Ramsey midway through the second half and they began to push Lyon back.
Nevertheless, they struggled to create clear chances, with Ronaldo rarely looking like adding to his recent goals tally and left frustrated when he had a hopeful late penalty appeal waved away.
Higuain should have done better from close range late on before Dybala was denied by the offside flag, and the Turin giants will have to turn the tie around in three weeks.
However, they can look to what happened at the same stage a year ago for inspiration – on that occasion they needed to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid, and a Ronaldo hat-trick did the job in the second leg at home.
•Pieced together from AFP stories.
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.