Bernardo Silva’s first-half double put Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in control against the 14-time European Champions Real Madrid, while an own goal by Eder Militao after the break and a late fourth from Julian Alvarez sealed the deal for the Citizens as they avenged their bitter semi-final loss from the previous year.
With Inter Milan awaiting in the final, City will be huge favourites to finally deliver the trophy Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour has been hoping for since purchasing the club in 2008, having been denied by Chelsea two years ago.
City are now undefeated in 26 home matches in the competition, and that run was never in danger once Portuguese midfielder Silva fired a shot past Thibaut Courtois in the 23rd minute, and then headed in his side’s second goal in the 37th.
The second half was almost a formality as holders Real Madrid, bidding to win the trophy for a sixth time in 10 seasons, were outplayed by a relentless Manchester City side closing in on a treble.
And there was no turning back for Carlo Ancelotti’s team when Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick cannoned off Militao in the 76th minute.
Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League Final after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Real Madrid in the second leg of their semi-final at the Etihad Stadium. The match had looked to be heading for extra-time until Eder Militao’s calamitous own goal, which handed Pep Guardiola’s side a precious lead and a memorable victory.
Real Madrid had taken the lead in the first half through Karim Benzema, but City equalised through Gabriel Jesus and then took the lead in the second half via Rodri’s header. The Spanish giants were not to be denied, however, and Vinicius Junior levelled the scores to set up a dramatic finale.
Then, with the match heading for extra-time, Militao was left red-faced after turning the ball into his own net to hand City a dramatic victory. It was an agonising end for Real Madrid, but a night to remember for Manchester City and their supporters. The Citizens will now face Chelsea in the showpiece event, with a chance to become European Champions for the first time in the club’s history at stake.
|Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Manchester City v Real Madrid – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 17, 2023 Real Madrid’s Eder Militao scores an own goal and Manchester City’s third. Photo: Reuters|
Alvarez put the final flourish on an unforgettable evening for City with a neatly taken goal after coming on as a last-minute replacement for Erling Haaland.
There was an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement in the air inside City’s fortress before kick-off, with the clash being billed as a de-facto final between Inter and City – the latter had been waiting for their first final in 13 years, despite their mediocre Serie A season.
The lineups were almost identical to the sizzling 1-1 draw in the Bernabéu last week, the only change being in Real Madrid’s rearguard with Éder Militão in for Antonio Rüdiger.
In the Spanish capital, Real Madrid had a hard time gaining control of the game early on. With their opponents making it difficult for them to move the ball out of their own half, they struggled to string together passes.
|Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Manchester City v Real Madrid – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 17, 2023 Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Phil Foden, Rodri, Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez. Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff|
Twice in the opening 20 minutes, real keeper Thibaut Courtois came to his side’s rescue with saves from point-blank Haaland headers. The first save was a little lucky, while the second was nothing short of miraculous.
The pressure on the City side was relentless, but the breakthrough came fast, with Silva whipping a left-footed shot past Courtois from the right edge of the penalty area. This was City’s eighth goal attempt in the first 23 minutes.
It took Real Madrid a full half an hour to launch an attack, but eventually their efforts were rewarded when City’s Kyle Walker won a sprint race against Vinicius Jr. to nullify the threat.
Toni Kroos, one of the five current Real Madrid players to have won the trophy five times with the Spanish club, unleashed a stunning right-footed shot that left the City goalkeeper Ederson rooted to the spot. Ederson managed to get a fingertip to the ball, but it still crashed against the crossbar.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Erling Braut Haaland embraced after the latter was substituted in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on May 17, 2023 at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England. The two shared a special moment as captured by Reuters in the photo above. Guardiola and Haaland have a strong bond, and this was clearly evident in the mutual respect and admiration they showed each other after the substitution.
|Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Manchester City v Real Madrid – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 17, 2023 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Erling Braut Haaland after being substituted. Photo: Reuters|
A one-goal advantage was always going to be precarious against Real Madrid’s serial winners, but Silva made sure Manchester City reached halftime with one foot in the final, reacting quickest to loop a header into the net after Ilkay Gundogan’s shot was parried away.
City toyed with the 14-times champions for the remainder of the half, and could have been further ahead.
Real needed some hope, and it nearly came in the form of a David Alaba free kick six minutes after half-time. The shot was acrobatically saved by Ederson, but it gave Real a glimmer of optimism.
Manchester City fans cheer inside the Etihad Stadium before a Champions League semi-final second leg match between Manchester City and Real Madrid on May 17, 2023. The iconic venue was filled with supporters waving flags and banners, showing their support for their beloved club. The atmosphere was electric as the teams competed for a spot in the final. The match ended in a draw, with Real Madrid progressing to the final. Fans of both teams will be eagerly awaiting the result of the final, and Manchester City supporters will be hoping for a repeat of their success in the 2018-19 season. The picture captured the excitement and anticipation of the evening, and is sure to be a memorable moment for all involved.
|Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Manchester City v Real Madrid – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 17, 2023 Manchester City fans with flags inside the stadium before the match. Photo: Reuters|
Courtois did his utmost to keep Ancelotti’s side in the match with yet another save from Haaland, as the Norwegian was left frustrated at not being able to score his 53rd goal of an exceptional season.
Any hopes of a repeat of last year’s incredible comeback, when Real Madrid won 6-5 on aggregate, were dashed when De Bruyne’s whipped free kick deflected off Militao and into the net.
Alvarez expertly stroked a first-time shot into the bottom corner during stoppage time.
With their place in the Istanbul showpiece secured, Manchester City can win their fifth Premier League title in six seasons this weekend and they also have an FA Cup final to look forward to.