MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City are three games away from making history. And after a shock defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals, Pep Guardiola’s march towards a treble of titles looks unstoppable.
“Here we are. We can think about it, we can imagine it”, said the Spanish coach.
Bernardo Silva scored twice as City thrashed Madrid 4-0 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League final.
City will face Inter Milan in Istanbul on June 10, a day when Guardiola will seek to win Europe’s top club tournament title for the third time as manager.
Bernardo found the net on 23 and 37 minutes at the Etihad Stadium. Eder Militão scored an own goal in the 76th, while Julián Álvarez – the world champion Argentine who is a luxury substitute for City – scored a fourth in stoppage time to seal a 5–1 aggregate victory.
“It’s been a beautiful night,” Bernardo said. “We knew it was going to be difficult, but to beat this Madrid 4-0 at home is something wonderful.”
The English side will attempt to lift the European Cup for the first time in their history, the icing on the cake of the millions invested in star signings since the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund took control of the club. It will be their second final in three seasons: they lost 1–0 to Chelsea in the 2021 duel.
“It’s a great feeling to be in another final and hopefully we can win it now,” said Bernardo.
The defending continental champions, Madrid, seek to extend their record of appearances in the tournament to 15. But Carlo Ancelotti’s team were non-stop destructive.
If it were not for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the scoring for the white team could have been more scandalous.
City were a well-oiled football machine that did everything right for 90 regal minutes, imposing aggression, control and ambition.
Down the right wing, Kyle Walker completely outplayed Brazil striker Vinicius Junior, who scored Madrid’s solitary goal in last week’s 1-1 first leg tie.
“They applied a lot of pressure at the start, it worked well, because it made it very difficult for us to start and they took the lead,” Ancelotti analyzed. “From there, getting back into the game was difficult. We tried it in another… but it didn’t work.
Bernardo beat Courtois at the near post to open the scoring after Erling Haaland called for some monumental saves from the Merengue goalkeeper.
In response, Toni Kroos was able to equalize for the visitors with a shot that hit the crossbar. But Bernardo scored again when he headed a ball that floated into the area after Ilkay Gundogan’s shot failed.
Madrid became European champions the previous season with a succession of comebacks, including another semi-final win against City, winning 6–5 after extra time.
But the epic could not be repeated on this occasion as Militão combed his own net in the closing stages of the match to thwart any attempt to come back by Madrid.
“Last year we were able to beat them and this year it was their turn,” said Ancelotti. “It’s the rule of the game: Sometimes you can lose.”
Guardiola won the Champions League twice as coach of Barcelona, with Lionel Messi as a keeper. But the Catalans have not been able to add another trophy to their scrolls at the top of Bayern Munich and now in a city that this weekend could grab the Premier League title for a third season.
Also, City will face Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
United themselves are the only English team to have won all three major trophies in a single season. He got it in 1999.
“We are close and of course we are going to try,” Guardiola said.