Last Updated on 5 May 2022 12:34 pm (UK Time)
Two Goal Hero Rodrygo breaks Manchester City’s hearts in injury time to take the tie to extra-time
Karim Benzema’s penalty takes Real Madrid to Paris in a stunning comeback victory
As the clock moved into the ninetieth minute here in the Bernabeu stadium, some people thought it was all over. Manchester City were two goals to the good on aggregate courtesy of a Riyad Mahrez strike, and passing the ball around with authority, a domestic dust-up with rivals Liverpool who had secured their spot in the Champions League final courtesy of a win on Spanish soil the previous evening within touching distance.Embed from Getty Images
But this Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti in his second spell in the Castilian hot seat never know when they are beaten, and ripped up the script to spoil the City party. Brazillian winger Rodrygo, a late substitute for Toni Kroos, stuck out a leg in the 90th minute to divert the ball past Ederson from a Benzema effort to give Real Madrid the slimmest of hopes. That hope turned to joyous disbelief among Madridistas 90 seconds later when a cross from Danny Carvajal was headed goal wards by Marco Asensio and flashed onto the head of Rodrygo who glanced the ball high into the Manchester City net with Ederson rooted to the spot.
Cue bedlam amongst the home support and the Madrid bench.
5-5 and extra time.
City players wandered back to the halfway line in shock, some holding their heads, others looking spent.
But worse was to come for Pep Guardiola’s men in the first half of injury time. With Madrid attacking and all the momentum behind them, Ruben Diaz upended Benzema in the box and the Italian referee, Daniele Orsato had no hesitation, penalty to Madrid.
Benzema picked himself up off the deck and placed the ball on the spot. There he was met by Ederson, eyeball to eyeball, as the two continued the mind games set off by Benzema’s outrageous Panenka penalty in the first leg at the Etihad.
Again Karim Benzema had the upper hand, cooly sending the City keeper the wrong way as he stroked the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
6-5 to Madrid
City were gone. Unable to clear their heads from what had just happened. Real Madrid backed by their delirious support and the substituted Benzema, Vinicius Junior, and Marcello urging and cajoling from the sidelines, cheering every tackle, every pass, kicking every ball, stood firm in the final half of extra time to produce one of the great comebacks of European football – an incredible performance, extraordinary, thrilling, full of character, guts and never-say-die – that will live long in the memory.
At the final whistle, City players were in tears, in stark contrast to the Real Madrid team who jubilantly celebrated with their fans, and rightly so. They had earned their ticket to the final with world-class commitment and belief right to the end.Embed from Getty Images
17 years after Carlo Ancelotti took his Milan side to face Liverpool in what became the classic, ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ European cup final, the veteran Italian manager has another chance to overcome the reds as he takes his Madrid side to the French capital to pit his Spanish champions against the ‘mentality monsters’ of Merseyside in what promises to be a mouth-watering contest between the top two teams of European football in Paris
There can surely only be one winner: football.