Man City let down by usual hero as Real Madrid win Champions League thriller on penalties

Real Madrid edged past Manchester City on penalties to reach the Champions League semi-finals (Image: GETTY)

Real Madrid fought tooth and nail to down Manchester City and reach the Champions League semi-finals in dramatic fashion. Kevin De Bruyne’s close-range finish in the second half cancelled out Rodrygo’s early opener before the match went to penalties, with Antonio Rudiger striking the decisive blow from 12 yards.

Express Sport takes a look at the biggest talking points from tonight’s game at the Etihad Stadium…

Haaland fails to stand up and be counted

Erling Haaland was simply not at the races in attack, with the Norwegian forward having just seven touches in the opening 35 minutes without completing a single pass.

City’s prized asset, who is normally so prolific in front of goal, also missed two huge chances to level the scores before the break. He fired wide with one early header before striking the bar with another, while his night was summed up when he stumbled the ball out of play to end a promising attack in the second half.

It marked another high-profile match in which Haaland failed to do much of note, fuelling the debate over his ability as a footballer when his goals are taken out of the equation.

Watch all the Premier League and Champions League drama unfold on TNT Sports

Erling Haaland failed to have the desired impact after missing two huge chances (Image: GETTY)

Guardiola outfoxed by Ancelotti

There was a clear winner in the tactical battle between Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, with the Italian coming out on top when it mattered most.

Real Madrid were always going to be on the back foot but they executed their plan to perfection, beating City’s press time and time again in the first half. The Spanish giants were not as good after the break but they did enough to force a penalty shoot-out, riding City’s waves of relentless pressure to survive for 120 minutes.

The end result was largely a reflection of Ancelotti’s brilliance in setting up his team to grind out a crucial victory at Guardiola’s expense.

Walker almost redeems himself in Vinicius battle

Kyle Walker was imperious against Vinicius in last year’s semi-final but initially found himself on the wrong end of the stick this time around.

Making his return to City’s starting line-up, the England defender looked rusty in the opening exchanges and was guilty of playing Vinicius onside in the build-up to Rodrygo’s early goal. Never one to lie down and accept a poor display, he worked hard in his bid to redeem himself by getting the better of Vinicius after City had drawn level.

But once all was said and done, it was too little, too late for a player who is always so impactful for City against the best teams in Europe.

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Bellingham gives Southgate food for thought

There has been plenty of debate over who should be given the advanced role for England this summer at Euro 2024. Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham are the standout contenders but the latter’s performance in the engine room served as clear evidence that both players can coexist in different positions.

Bellingham did much of the dirty work for Real Madrid but was equally impressive going forward, pulling off an exquisite first touch in the build-up to Rodrygo’s goal. He is usually deployed as an advanced playmaker but was pivotal as a box-to-box midfielder against City, a position he excelled in while at Borussia Dortmund.

He might well be given the same role for England if Foden plays behind Harry Kane up top, with Gareth Southgate likely to be impressed with what he saw from Bellingham at the Etihad Stadium.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1889591/Man-City-Real-Madrid-Champions-League