It was a match which will be remembered as a Champions League classic. There were seven goals, one an outrageous penalty, plenty of chances and outstanding performances as Manchester City and Real Madrid played out a thrilling 4-3 first-leg semifinal tie Tuesday.
Football fans drooled on social media as Real came back from 2-0 down to leave the tie in the balance for the return leg in Madrid. As Real goalscorer Karim Benzema posted on social media after the match, “The game has only just begun.”
“As a football fan, it was a fantastic game of football,” Real manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.
“As a manager of Madrid, I have to take into consideration that we … conceded two goals very early. But we take three goals to the Bernabeu. We now hope to get to the final.”
Kevin De Bruyne’s superb diving header gave City the lead after just 94 seconds. When Gabriel Jesus spinned inside the box to double the home side’s lead in the 11th minute it seemed as if Real was in for an arduous evening. The 13-time champion, the most successful club in the competition’s history, had never before conceded two goals so quickly in the Champions League.
City, looking to win the Champions League for the first time, was breathtaking and should have gone 3-0 up, but Pep Guaridiola’s team was unable to convert promising chances, and Real hit back – Benzema steering the ball into the bottom corner to halve the deficit before the break.
Eight minutes after the restart City scored again, Phil Foden nodding home from Fernandinho’s cross, before Vinicius Jr. scored a brilliant goal to make it 3-2.
More goals and drama was to come, however.
In the 74th minute, Bernardo Silva beat Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a sizzling effort into the top corner, then Benzema scored his second of the night – a penalty which will be replayed again and again.
Aymeric Laporte was penalised for handling inside the area and up stepped Benzema with a ‘Panenka’ – a chipped penalty down the middle – with eight minutes remaining.
The Frenchman had missed two penalties in Real’s La Liga win over Osasuna six days earlier so to attempt such a spot kick in such a pressurized situation was astonishing.
Commentating on BBC Radio 5 live, former England striker Alan Shearer said: “All I can do is chuckle and think, ‘I cannot believe Karim Benzema has just done that’ … The audacity! It was incredible.”
It was a fitting way to end a special night.
“It was a fantastic game for both sides. We did many good things. Unfortunately we conceded goals and we could not score more. But it is two games and we have another one in one week,” Guardiola told reporters.