Jack Grealish: Kevin De Bruyne is built for the Champions League
Jack Grealish has praised Manchester City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian’s crucial strike against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
De Bruyne netted a stunning equaliser as the Premier League leaders claimed a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-four tie against the holders at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night.
Despite dominating a lot of the early play, City were trailing to an equally brilliant Vinicius Junior goal when De Bruyne rifled home from distance after 67 minutes.
His screamer left the tie delicately poised ahead of next Wednesday’s return leg at the Etihad Stadium.
Grealish said: “We all know what a guy Kevin is and what a brilliant player he has been for this football club. Nights like this are just made for him and sum him up really.
“City fans can’t count how many times he’s scored important goals, got important assists.
“It must have meant a lot to him and obviously I’m buzzing for him.”
City outplayed Real, who are bidding to win the European Cup for a record-extending 15th time, as they dominated possession in the opening half-hour but they were caught out by Vinicius’ wonder strike after 36 minutes.
The Brazilian let fly from from 25 yards after good work by Eduardo Camavinga and City needed to retain their composure in a difficult atmosphere to get back into the game.
They were rewarded when De Bruyne replicated Vinicius’ heroics but Real also had their moments of dominance in a hard-fought second half.
With both goalkeepers making good saves, the outcome remains very much in the balance.
“Everyone knows what the Champions League is like,” Grealish said. “It’s a brilliant competition – brilliant players, brilliant stadiums and brilliant teams.
“That was their first attempt, when they scored the goal. It was a great strike, there probably wasn’t much we could do about it, but we hung in there.
“It was great mental strength from everyone to carry on playing, carry on trying and in the end Kev came up with an absolute worldie.
“We came here to win the game, that’s what we wanted to do, but in the end I think the draw was probably was a fair result.”
Treble-chasing City can ill-afford to ease up ahead of the return encounter, with a testing trip to relegation-threatened Everton at the weekend.
With the Toffees fighting for survival, it is likely to be a different type of encounter and the Premier League leaders will be determined to pick up points to hold off Arsenal in the title race.
It is a challenge Grealish is relishing.
“I feel unstoppable at the moment,” the 27-year-old said: “You’re looking around, playing with these guys that are unbelievable.
“And the fans are brilliant, every home and away game. I’m sure we’ll need them at Goodison Park at the weekend and, of course, the Etihad next Wednesday, which we’re all buzzing for already.”
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