By George Stephens • 27 February 2020 • 10:07
Real Madrid 1 Manchester City 2
Match Report From Adam Brown (Football With Brownie -You Tube)
For the fans of Los Blancos the football world may not seem a very fair place to be at the moment. In recent days their bitter rivals and fellow championship challengers Barcelona were allowed to sign a player even through the transfer window is currently shut and then last night Manchester City the team who’s been charged with cheating FFP rules for a number of years arrived at the Bernabeu only for one of their players (Kevin De Bruyne) who’s transfer to Manchester is key in the case against City played like a man possessed.
Going into the game Real made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Levante last time out. Eden Hazard missed out with an ankle injury which he sustained in that game, so Vinicius replaced him. Valverde and Mendy also came into the starting 11, City on the other hand made two changes themselves from their 1-0 win over Leicester with Otamendi and Jesus start ahead of Fernandinho and Aguero.
As the game stated it seemed that City played an unorthodox 4-2-3-1 formation with the Belgian magician De Bruyne playing in the hole with Jesus and Mahrez playing very wide but what was intriguing is that they seemed content to let Madrid have the ball early on.
It seemed a lifetime for the first real chance to happen when in the 21st minute Courtois made a big save as De Bruyne threaded Jesus behind the Madrid defence who then cut onto his right foot and fired straight at the keeper, who could only push it away.
During the first 25 minutes a stat that the only two strikers (Benzema and Jesus) on show have had fewer touches of the ball than De Bruyne nine to that point was clear evidence that Guardiolas tactic to stymie Madrid was a strange one but clearly working.
The next big chance didn’t come until 10 minutes afterwards but what a chance it was. Mendy sent a high cross in, Benzema got on the end of it and he headed it for the bottom left hand corner, but Ederson dived to his right to keep it out. Vinicius slipped at a key moment when he really should have scored only for Casemiro to then blaze it over.
With the two added minutes to what really was a boring first half City could have gone into the interval actually being a goal up after winning a corner down their left. De Bruyne fired it towards the near post. Courtois flapped and Jesus’ shot was cleared off the line. Ramos’ positioning was all wrong and he almost put it into this own net only for Casemiro to spare his blushes.
As the second period started I’m sure everyone who was watching this game whether they were in attendance or watching it on TV were wishing for a much improved second half as many must have been fearful of a bore draw. However the signs of an improvement were evident early on as in the 49th minute Madrid sent significant numbers in the box for one of the first times in the game, but they failed to get the ball in. City then counter-attacked and Mahrez’s attempt to bend a shot into the top left corner didn’t quite come off.
In the 56th Minute Mahrez had two chances. First, the Algerian completed a lovely turn from Jesus’ pass to fire a shot straight at Courtois. Shortly after, Mahrez beat the offside trap to latch onto a ball over the top. He only had Courtois to beat but the keeper denied him.
It was on the hour mark that the deadlock was finally broken and at the time it seemed totally against the run of play. Gundogan’s pass in midfield was poor and Madrid pressed. Vinicius intercepted a poor Walker clearance and found Isco alone in the box, the former Malaga player couldn’t miss. It was Isco’s first goal in the Champions League knockout stage since May 2017 but credit had to go to Vinicius for the goal.
Madrid seemed back in control and in the 66th minute it was almost 2-0 as Casemiro slid Valverde in down the right. Valverde put in a weighted cross that was just too close to Ederson for Benzema to knock in.
Fernandinho made a fantastic block to stop Ramos’ shot in the 71st minute after the Madrid captain made a run into the box.
City then started to slow the game down briefly as they looked to lower Madrids momentum and they made the first change of the game in the 73rd minute as Sterling came on for Bernardo Silva. Shortly after Zidane responded with his own change as Vinicius made way for Bale.
A few minutes later Bale made his first contribution as Mendy slid the Welshman in down the left and Bale’s shot from the left of the box was blocked by Otamendi. However shortly after City got their equaliser. Jesus got behind Ramos in the 78th minute to flick in De Bruyne’s cross with his head. The Belgians cross with his right foot on the swivel was lovely and it was the least the vistors deserved for their efforts.
Just a few minutes later City scored a second away goal in the form of a penalty kick. Sterling took on Carvajal and the full-back clumsily brought down the England winger just as he entered the box. De Bruyne made no mistake from the spot by scoring his 50th goal for his club, he sent Courtois the wrong way and dragging the penalty into the bottom left corner.
City were then hunting for a third goal and in the 86th minute ‘El Capitan’ Ramos was shown the red card for the 26thtime in his Los Blancos career. Jesus pounced on a mistake by the Madrid back line and was through on goal. Ramos caught him with his trailing leg which left referee Orsato with no other option than to send him in for an early shower. What will that do to the complexion of this tie..?
All in all it was an historic night for Manchester City. They got their first win over Real Madrid and it was a mighty statement of intent. You have to fancy them to make it through to the quarter finals of the competition now but if Madrid up their game in the second leg those celebrations which were seen in the away end last night may turn out to be premature,
The two sides meet again in Manchester in three weeks time. City’s attentions will turn to the EFL Cup Final against Aston Villa this weekend for now, while Madrid have to pick themselves up to face Barcelona in El Clasico so they can’t afford to mope for too long.
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