The first meeting of the Champions League semi-final confrontation between Manchester City and Real Madrid turned out to be extremely productive and ended with a score of 4:3 in favor of the English club. As part of the guests scored Karim Benzema, who made a double and topped the list of scorers of the current tournament with 14 goals.
The paths of Real Madrid and Manchester City in the Champions League crossed for the first time since 2020, when in the 1/8 finals the British club, first before the coronavirus break, and then after it, won both meetings with a score of 2:1. And hardly anyone could have imagined that now in Manchester, rivals in just 90 minutes will block the performance indicator of those two matches.
The hosts started very briskly. They, one might say, crushed the defense of Real Madrid. Already in the second minute, Riyad Mahrez moved from the right flag to the center, made a pass to Kevin de Bruyne, and he almost opened the scoring with an irresistible header. However, Real’s debut problems did not end there. Not even ten minutes had passed, and Manchester City, after passing the same de Bruyne on the left flank and the successful actions of Gabriel Jesus, who was ahead of David Alaba, scored the second goal. The defensive orders of the guests could not cope with the pressure in any way, and half an hour after the start of the meeting, the score could well have been 4:0. But first Mahrez and then Phil Foden didn’t use their chances. Only after that, Real Madrid snapped for real. Alaba won an air duel against the defenders, struck with a header, but missed the goal.
And then Karim Benzema, the undisputed leader of Real Madrid in this Champions League and its best player at the moment, said his word. He adjusted to the transfer from the left flank of Fernand Mendy and, ahead of Alexander Zinchenko, who could not hold back the star Frenchman, brilliantly hit Ederson’s goal, scoring his 13th goal in the current tournament and catching up with his former top scorer Robert Lewandowski. Before the break, Manchester City owned the initiative more, and for such a game, the result of the first half – 2: 1 – looked acceptable for Real Madrid.
The second half started with a new stretch of Manchester City dominance. A mistake by Madrid defender Militao led to the fact that within two seconds Mahrez hit the post, and Foden – Daniel Carvajal. And in the 53rd minute, the British midfielder of the hosts finally distinguished himself by hammering the ball into the net with his head. This happened after a brilliant top pass by Fernandinho, who took advantage of another oversight by the Real Madrid defenders on the right flank. After a couple of minutes, the Brazilian, however, turned out to be already an anti-hero, allowing Vinicius to break into the penalty area and win the duel against Ederson, again reducing the gap to a minimum with a great shot into the far bottom corner.
But that was not all. After about 20 minutes, Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper of Real Madrid, gave a swing, who lost the goal and, instead of hitting the ball sent to Bernardo Silva into the near corner, for some reason crouched down. And soon the Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs appointed a penalty for handballing in his own penalty area, Emeric Laporta, and Benzema scored a double, throwing the ball over Ederson with a mock scoop.
As a result – 4:3. And before the second leg in Madrid, Real Madrid, perhaps, retains a good chance of reaching the final. At the same time, however, we must bear in mind that already on Saturday he can win the Spanish championship four rounds before the finish line. And sometimes it is not easy even for the most experienced and stellar football professionals to play another important match after the release of positive emotions.