06 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views


Martin Samuel in MADRID

IT was there, it was within their grasp, so close, they could almost feel it. 

So close, they could picture the stadium, decked in sky blue and red on May 28. 

Liverpool versus…

Hold on. 

That’s where the dream died. 

It will not be Manchester City in Paris, creating a third all-English final in four years. 

It is Real Madrid who will face down Liverpool, perhaps on the brink of a quadruple if this sucks as much life from the title race as it could. 

This was simply a devastating defeat for Manchester City. 

Not just its consequence but its manner. 

For Real Madrid this was not a comeback but a resurrection. It was on the scale of Manchester United in Nou Camp, 1999. 

Madrid were 5-3 down on aggregate going into the final minute of normal time and 6-5 up five minutes into the extra time that resulted from their incredible feat of resistance. 

It was the first time they had led across the two entire ties: the 185th minute of the match.

Manchester City, in Europe. What is to become of them? Nothing is ever simple. Nothing straightforward. 

How did they lose this, having played so well on the night? 

A minute before Real Madrid scored, Jack Grealish, on as a substitute had two chances to put the outcome beyond doubt. 

The first was cleared off the line, the second sent wide by the merest touch from Thibaut Courtois in goal. 

And then they were out, gone. 

They had silenced the Bernabeu, the game was as good as won. And then it wasn’t. As a former player once asked: why always them?

Yet credit Real Madrid, too. Credit them for never knowing when they are beaten. 

This was a heroic display of fortitude, wrested from City by two goals from substitute Rodrygo. 

Coming on for Toni Kroos with the game goalless he was inspired. 

One goal in the final minute for what looked to be a footnote consolation, then a minute later to turn the tie on its head. City were stunned. 

They had been the better side for almost all of this encounter. How could this be?

Karim Benzema, kept quiet for most of the night, hooked a volleyed cross from the left side of the penalty area for Rodrygo’s first – Ederson beaten to the ball by his outstretched foot. 

For the second Marco Asensio flicked on Dani Carvajal’s cross and the Brazilian forward rose above a now rattled defence and sent his header past Ederson. Astonishing.

Worse was to come. 

Extra time had barely started when Ruben Dias went in clumsily on Benzema, and Italian referee Daniele Orsato pointed to the penalty spot. 

By now, City were in shock and disarray; Madrid the swaggering gods of the Champions League. And no Panenka for Benzema this time. Nothing clever or fancy. 

He struck it low to Ederson’s left, giving him no chance. 

There was barely a peep out of City after that. They were done. There is something about this competition and Madrid. 

Liverpool the same. Serial finalists, the pair of them. It still holds more painful memories than fondness for City. – Mailonline.

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