De Bruyne super strike earns City a draw

Pep Guardiola’s side looked to put one foot in the final of the UEFA Champions League as they travelled to the Spanish capital, where Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid awaited them. As we mentioned in our pre-match preview, the two sides clashed at the same stage of the competition last year – Los Blancos emerged victorious thanks to three late goals.

RMA: Courtois; Camavinga, Alaba, Rudiger, Carvajal; Modric, Kroos, Valverde; Vinicius Jr, Benzema, Rodrygo

MCI: Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Walker; Rodri, Stones; Grealish, Gundogan, De Bruyne, B. Silva; Haaland

City looked to pile on the pressure early on, though there was concern that Jack Grealish may have come off worse from his challenge with Rodrygo in the opening minute. Toni Kroos did well to recover and dispossess Erling Haaland with six minutes on the clock, as the Norwegian forward looked to dart infield.

With a thunderous strike from the edge of the box, Kevin De Bruyne forced Thibaut Cortois into a great save – and the linesman’s flag was raised as the ‘keeper parried the ball out to the offside Bernardo Silva.

City felt they should have been awarded a penalty as Erling Haaland was shoved to the ground inside the box by Dani Carvajal with fourteen minutes played, but the Portuguese referee opted to allow play to continue.

The Norwegian came close to scoring a minute later though, as Jack Grealish managed to dance past Carvajal before whipping a ball across the face of goal – but Haaland’s header was straight into the hands of Courtois.

A rare foray forward for Real Madrid saw Karim Benzema played through on goal by Rodrygo, and the Frenchman looked sure to open the scoring but for the onrushing Ederson. The Brazilian won the race for the ball though, bringing an end to the chance.

John Stones was brought to the ground by the outstretched leg of Eduardo Camavinga on the edge of the box, but the referee opted to let play continue as City retained possession. Ilkay Gundogan eventually blazed his shot over the crossbar.

Pep Guardiola’s side were certainly controlling possession, with los Blancos were unable to win the ball back until Rodri took too long to play a pass within his own half, and Vinicius Junior took full advantage to fire a cross into the box. Ruben Dias put in a phenomenal block to divert the ball away from Karim Benzema, who would have had an open goal if not for the defender’s efforts.

Possession means nothing if you can’t find the back of the net though, as Pep Guardiola’s team found out the hard way. Ten minutes before the half-time interval, it was Real Madrid that took the lead against the run off play. Vinicius Junior picked up the ball on the halfway line, darting forward before laying it off to Rodrygo – and the Brazilian made absolutely no mistake, hammering a strike past his compatriot ‘keeper to put los Blancos ahead with the Spanish side’s first shot on target.

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Looking to wind the clock down in the first half, Dani Carvajal unnecessarily sent Jack Grealish into the advertising hoardings – before tumbling to the ground himself under absolutely no pressure whatsoever. The Spaniard stayed down on the ground for quite some time, before being dragged back onto the pitch by a rather embarrassed David Alaba.

Toni Kroos was lucky to escape with a yellow card in stoppage time though, as his outstretched leg struck Ilkay Gundogan just below the hip – leaving the City midfielder squirming in pain on the ground. Ultimately though, that was the last action of the first half as the two sides headed down the tunnel, where they’d hopefully have air conditioning after playing 45 minutes in the blazing Spanish heat that’s been intensified by the ongoing construction works at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Neat link-up play in the first five minute of the second half saw Real Madrid earn a corner, as Dani Carvajal’s flick-on to Benzema left the Frenchman with a tight shooting angle – and Ederson was forced to tip it over the bar.

A chance soon after at the other end could have seen City draw level, but a great fingertip save from Thibaut Courtois was enough to deny Kevin De Bruyne. The linesman’s flag was promptly raised, but it looked tight – and the goal may well have stood if we’d have gone to VAR.

Gundogan looked to release Erling Haaland in the 55th minute, and the Norwegian surged forwards before getting a shot iff – but a great sliding challenge from David Alaba saw the ball deflect over the crossbar.

Rodrygo looked to power home his second of the evening with just over half an hour still to play, but a crucial deflection from Jack Grealish saw the ball go behind for a corner. Vinicius Junior won the ball and looked to fire it back in from the left, though another black saw it sent out for another corner. The ball fell to Fede Valverde just outside the area, but the Uruguayan’s strike was blasted over the crossbar.

Valverde led calls for a penalty against Jack Grealish after the ex-Villa winger appeared to have handled the ball inside the box, but replays showed that the ball struck his arm following a deflection – so VAR’s intervention wasn’t necessary.

City drew level with just over twenty minutes left, as Kevin De Bruyne powered a thunder strike from outside the box into the bottom corner. It had been a great passage of buildup play from the visitors, and the midfielder certainly managed to get one up on his national team colleague. The goal sparked life into City’s travelling contingent, with Blue Moon ringing out around the ground.

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Ederson was forced to make a great save ten minutes later though, as Karim Benzema rose highest to nod a header towards goal – but the Brazilian ‘keeper was able to parry it away from danger. The striker way well have been in an offside position anyway, though Ederson wasn’t taking any risks.

It looked as if there was to be another goal though, as Aurelien Tchouameni came close to restoring Real Madrid’s lead in the final minute – but another great save from Ederson kept City level.

The final whistle rang out around the Santiago Bernabéu, as the game is tied ahead of next week’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium. Rodrygo’s stunning opener brought an end to City’s early dominance, but Pep Guardiola’s side found their way back into the game and managed to earn an early draw courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne’s thunderous strike. An interesting point to add is that City played the entire game without making a substitution, which speaks volumes about their physical fitness given the intense heat in the Spanish capital.