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Manchester City vs. Real Madrid score: Guardiola’s men win seven-goal thriller, but Benzema keeps Real in it

In what was absolutely stunning 90 minutes of offensive football, Manchester City beat Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first match at the Etihad on Tuesday, 4-3. A wild battle with what felt like countless chances, the three goals in the first half were surpassed by four in the second half, with the Los Blancos staying within striking distance ahead of next week’s second game in Madrid, though they may not have deserved it.

City were clearly the better team with the better chances, and anyone who witnesses that football show must feel surprised to see Real, even with life on the way into the second match. City won the xG match, 2.37-1.48, but while the hosts were dominant with five shots more and almost 20% more ball possession, it was the chances they missed that will be remembered. With a slightly better finish or a real striker (the highly rumored upcoming signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, for example), they could really have put five or six past the Spanish team.

When he went up to 2-0 just 11 minutes inside through Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus, it was Karim Benzema who pulled Real inside one at 2-1 before Vinicius Jr. made it 3-2. Then Benzema did it again and pulled Real back within a late with the last goal of the match via a penalty kick.

Four different players scored for City, with Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva joining the first two, but Pep Guardiola will not be particularly enthusiastic about the result. Yes, a win is a win, but City were well on their way to a multi-goal victory several times in this match, where Real fought back and let everything be decided at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With a draw, Manchester City will feel …

Frustrated. It almost feels like they drew a draw just because the one-goal advantage is not what they feel they deserved. They made Real Madrid’s defense look silly at times, and a shower of crosses at the back seemed to result in the fifth, but nothing came out of them. They will remain the favorite in this tie, but what was set to be a comfortable night’s sleep is now becoming one of twists and turns, wondering what could have been.

With the draw, Real Madrid will feel …

Absolutely upbeat. They know they had nothing to do with keeping so close, but their big boys went up with Benzema and Vinicius Jr., each producing amazing goals. Now the defense needs to be improved, because if not, then they are done. But they ended the 90 minutes with life in a match where they looked lifeless 11 minutes inside.

Changing moment: Vinicius Jr.’s golazo

City led Real 3-1 in the 53rd minute when Phil Foden got his deserved goal and it looked like the locks were about to open. But when Fernandinho marked him, Vinicius Jr. got. one of the season’s solo goals. A dummy nutmeg saw him through on goal at the halfway line and finished excellently from a narrow angle. Take a look:

That goal kept Real in check, gave them a little more faith in momentum and prevented a 4-1 score that could have been the death knell.

Match man: Kevin de Bruyne

From our James Benge:

Another exhibition tie has been bent to De Bruyne’s will. From his perfectly timed arrow to flicking in Riyad Mahrez’s cross, he was at his very best, showing the entire repertoire of empty-perfect passes, dynamic runs and strength in duels.

And Benge is right. He was out of this world and by far the best player on the field, but he knows that some of the balls he passed should have been hidden away. Can he repeat this feat a second time?

The game’s most selfish moment: Riyad Mahrez’s miss

With City in full control at 2-0, and with a goal that could probably place Real comfortably, Riyad Mahrez was sent through down the right. He had Phil Foden open on the left side of the goal, but he decided to do this …

It is impossible not to wonder if it will miss haunt Manchester City.

Top show of skill: The foot’s tasty touch

You do not need words to describe beauty. Just take a look at the Foot who unwinds a ball as if he has a magnet in his boot.

Or was it?

Apologies in advance to our Micah Richards, who was captured on camera during the match with an incredible bit of skill. Eating a pasta dish while watching the match, here’s how he reacted to de Bruyne’s opener.

Incredible timing to keep that piece of pen paste in your mouth, and one could argue that it was more impressive than the Foot. Look, that loan to Fiorentina was worth something!

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