Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid: Main Talking Points As Pep Guardiola’s Side Pick Up A Thrilling Fir
In what was another Champions League classic on Tuesday night, Manchester City managed to pick up a thrilling first-leg advantage as they secured an action-packed 4-3 win against Real Madrid.
Storming their way to a 2-0 lead in the opening exchanges, Pep Guardiola’s side will still be feeling like they missed out on a golden chance to widen their buffer as they head out to the Spanish capital in a week’s time.
Watching Los Blancos’ deadly duo spearhead another eye-catching European comeback, it appears that a spot in the final of this season’s Champions League is still firmly hanging in the balance.
On a night that quickly turned into a rollercoaster showdown, we have taken a look at the main talking points as Manchester City dragged themselves over the finish line.
City disappointed with four
Watching attacking talisman Kevin De Bruyne open the scoring with under two minutes on the clock, Manchester City really couldn’t have wished for a better start on Tuesday night.
However, despite quickly racing into a 2-0 lead and appearing to be on the verge of putting the first-leg to bed early, there will be a sense of disappointment in Guardiola’s camp.
Dominating large spells and bagging themselves a brace on either side of the half-time break, the Premier League leaders will be feeling that they should have left with a far greater advantage.
Despite getting on the score sheet just minutes after the half-time break, Phil Foden missed a couple of clearcut chances, along with a wasteful Riyad Mahrez.
Knowing that they could have got at least seven if they had managed to be a tad more clinical, Guardiola will be hoping that he can get a handful of defensive stars back ahead of their second-leg showdown.
Showing some real issues at the back on Tuesday night and watching John Stones limp
off during the first-half, City were also missing the likes of Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake here.
Jesus shows his worth?
While Guardiola would have been hugely annoyed to have seen his side ship three strikes at the Etihad, the former Bayern Munich boss was once again filled with praise for the red-hot Gabriel Jesus.
Putting in a stunning display after bagging four goals in Man City’s 5-1 romp against relegation scrappers Watford last weekend, the Brazilian international once again impressed here.
Doubling the Sky Blues’ lead with just 11 minutes on the clock as he swept home from close range, the 25-year-old appears to be a man with a point to prove in Manchester.
With it being reported by The Daily Mail last week that Guardiola’s side are inching towards a deal for Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, it appears that Jesus’ tenure at the Etihad is drawing to a close.
Refusing to commit his future to the Premier League heavyweights past this summer, it has even been suggested over the past few days that Arsenal are keen on striking a deal for the 54-cap international.
Now racking up five goals in his back-to-back appearances over the past few days, Jesus will be hoping to once again spearhead City’s charge next week.
Can anyone stop Benzema?
Slumping to an early 2-0 deficit and failing to find any real foothold in proceedings, there is no doubt that Tuesday’s traveling support were calling on their record-breaking number nine to spearhead their fightback.
While Real Madrid might return to the Bernabéu still trailing, Karim Benzema has almost single-handily kept Los Blancos’ dreams of a double-winning campaign alive and kicking.
With many across Europe tipping the French international as a leading pick to claim his first Ballon d’Or crown this season, the one-time Lyon striker extended on his remarkable purple patch here.
Producing a sublime flicked finish across Ederson just after the half-hour mark, Benzema once again silenced the Etihad crowd with under 10 minutes to go as his panenka penalty reduced City’s deficit to a single goal.
Already racking up 14 Champions League strikes this season, Brazilian starlet Vinicius Junior also deserves an honorable mention for another eye-catching display on Tuesday night.
Breezing past first-half substitute Fernandinho and producing a stunning solo strike just after the restart, the 21-year-old netted his 18th strike of the season and has formed a stellar partnership with Benzema.
All eyes on the Bernabéu
Although Real Madrid might have eventually fallen to a stunning 3-2 defeat at home against Chelsea earlier in the month, Los Blancos will be boosted by their famous comeback at the Bernabéu.
Eventually finding a way past the now-former European champions thanks to a 5-4 aggregate victory, Ancelotti’s side will undoubtedly be looking to pick up another heavyweight English scalp next week.
However, while the Spanish giants might have done an impressive job of leaving Manchester chasing just a single strike, the Sky Blues have continued to shine on their travels this season.
Looking to reach back-to-back Champions League finals after their heartbreak against Chelsea last season, Guardiola’s men have lost just one of their previous 14 straight matchups away from the Etihad, a run that stems all the way back to December 7th.
Despite knowing that they should have finished Tuesday’s showdown with a more attractive buffer, City will be looking to keep up their recent momentum when they travel to Leeds this weekend.
Manchester City: Ederson, Stones, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden
Subs: Fernandinho, Sterling
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior, Benzema
Subs: Asensio, Nacho, Camavinga, Ceballos
Goals: Manchester City: De Bruyne 2′, Jesus 11′, Foden 53′, Silva 74′ – Real Madrid: Benzema 33′ 82′ (pen), Vinicius Junior 55′
Yellow Cards: Manchester City: Fernandinho – Real Madrid: Nacho
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: István Kovács
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