Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Madrid beat Man City to reach Champions League final

MADRID ( Associated Press) – “Si se pude! (Yes we can!)” chants at the Santiago Bernabeu slowly faded as the minutes went by and Real Madrid looked to be on the losing side.

As the end of regulation drew near, many in the stands and on the field were close to giving up as Manchester City defended their 1–0 lead.

It looked like there would be no magical night at the Bernabeu for the 13-time European champion this time around.

But Madrid took Wednesday’s Champions League return to another level, rallying two minutes late with two goals to force Rodrigo into extra time and 3-1 to Manchester City to reach the final. defeated by – A showdown with Liverpool.

Madrid’s previous comeback hero this season, Karim Benzema, converted a penalty kick in extra time for the deciding goal that allowed Madrid to lead 6–5 on aggregate after losing 4–3 in the semi-finals of the first leg. , in which he escaped defeat. Big margin.

“I didn’t think we could do it again because we were struggling,” said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. “We had already eliminated some top teams that spent a lot of money trying to win the Champions, but today it was more impressive, happening in the last minutes.”

Madrid had already made a thrilling comeback against Paris Saint-Germain at the Bernabeu in the round of 16 and against Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said: “I can’t say that we are used to living like this, but what happened tonight happened against Chelsea and also against Paris.” “If you have to say why, it’s the history of this club that helps us keep going when it feels like we’re gone.”

By doing so again against City, Madrid made it to the final against Liverpool in Paris on 28 May, going on to beat Villarreal on Tuesday. Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2018 final, when the Spanish powerhouse won their record-expanding 13th title.

“We have a score to settle in,” Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah said on Twitter after Madrid’s win.

The result ended City’s latest quest for their first Champions League trophy. Pep Guardiola’s team lost to Chelsea in the final last year.

“We were close but in the end we didn’t get to (the final),” Guardiola said.

Madrid were defeated at the end of regulation before Rodrigo scored his own goal in the space of two minutes. Riyad Mahrez had put City in 73rd place, but the Brazilian forward equalized in 90th and took the lead with a header in a minute in stoppage time.

Minutes before Rodrigo’s first goal, Ferland Mendy saved Madrid a second goal, which sealed City’s qualification by clearing the ball in front of the goal line while falling backwards to block an effort by Jack Grealish. could do

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved a Grealish shot from the bottom of his cleat shortly after.

Madrid took all the momentum in extra time and converted a penalty kick in the 95th minute after Benzema was fouled inside the area to give the hosts a 3-1 lead.

It was the 15th Champions League goal of the season for Benzema, the competition’s leading scorer. It was his 10th goal in the knockout stage alone, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record in a single season.

Benzema scored a hat-trick when Madrid rallied against both PSG and Chelsea. Madrid came back against PSG after losing the first leg in Paris and the second leg early at the Bernabeu. Against Chelsea, Madrid won the first match 3–1 but were down 3–0 in the second leg before rallying in extra time, when Benzema again scored the decisive goal.

Wednesday’s game started harder than last week’s first leg in Manchester, but City eventually opened the scoring when Mahrez found the top corner with a firm left-footed one-timer from inside the field after a pass from Bernardo Silva, Joe drew Madrid’s defenders before feeding the ball to his partner.

Mahrez scored both City’s goals in the second leg of last season’s semi-final against PSG. The Algerian became the first City player to score seven times in a Champions League campaign.

Madrid had scored 22 goals in their last eight matches in all competitions, but struggled to get past the City defence.

Benzema scored Rodrigo’s first goal from inside the field, and Marco Asensio flicked Dani Carvajal’s cross for Brazil’s surprise header in stoppage time.

Rodrigo scored twice as Madrid had already won the Spanish league title at the Bernabeu on Saturday, when players and coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrated late in the evening for fans’ support against Man City.

Fans had already given players a warm welcome as the team bus hit the streets around the Bernabeu ahead of Wednesday’s match.


More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni


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