Manchester City won a stunning 4-3 victory at the Etihad Stadium to take a slim lead in their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
In a tense first-leg meeting, the Premier League leaders raced to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from the effervescent Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in the first 11 minutes.
Real came back with goals from Karim Benzema and Phil Foden, before Phil Foden and Vinicius Junior traded goals early in the second half.
City took a two-goal lead through Bernardo Silva, but Benzema converted a cheeky penalty – his 41st goal of the season in as many games – to narrow the deficit once more.
In a gripping and intense match, both teams squandered countless additional opportunities, setting the stage for an exciting second leg next week.
As they stormed out of the blocks, City may rue not seizing a handful of early opportunities. They had a chance to put the tie out of reach in the first half-hour, but Real rallied back after superb comebacks against PSG and Chelsea in the previous two rounds.
The two teams will face off at the Bernabeu on Wednesday to determine who will play in the Champions League in just over a month.Tonight, Benzema was enormous once again.
It may seem cliche to compare Benzema to a great wine, but it is an apt metaphor for his professional trajectory. He’s aged beautifully and is now contending for the title of finest player in the world with players like De Bruyne and Kylian Mbappe.
It’s difficult enough to take a penalty in such a high-pressure circumstance; then to have the confidence to chip that same penalty, fantastic. What a performer.
Kevin De Bruyne had a good game
De Bruyne was outstanding for Man City this evening, and he has emerged as the Premier League’s most dominant player in recent weeks. As Sam mentions in the tweet below, he didn’t put a single foot wrong for the entire 90 minutes.
A battle of titans
The Champions League has once again demonstrated why it is the top of world football. The referee draws the season’s first game to a close at the Etihad, where both teams did their part admirably.
Manchester City will be perplexed as to how they are only a goal ahead heading to the Bernabeu, but a lead is a lead nonetheless.
After the final whistle, Guardiola and Ancelotti share a smile, and they won’t be the only ones smiling after that genuinely brilliant game of football.