The highly anticipated clash between European powerhouses Real Madrid and Manchester City ended in a tightly contested 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. This matchup, dubbed as the true final of the competition, showcased glimpses of the quality expected from these top teams. In a match that unfolded as predicted, Manchester City initially dominated possession while Real Madrid opted to absorb pressure and strike on the counter. Despite City’s control of the ball, they struggled to create clear-cut chances, and it was Real who struck first against the run of play. Vinicius Jr. capitalized on a pass from Eduardo Camavinga and fired a sensational shot past his international teammate, Ederson, to give Real Madrid the lead. Despite City’s 68% possession in the first half, they headed into halftime trailing 1-0, leaving Pep Guardiola’s side with work to do. However, the second half saw a shift in momentum as Carlo Ancelotti’s team enjoyed more time on the ball. City, though, responded emphatically when Kevin De Bruyne unleashed a thunderous strike that left Thibaut Courtois helpless, leveling the score.

The equalizer sparked controversy as Ancelotti protested that the ball had gone out of play in the buildup to the goal. The Real Madrid manager’s objections resulted in a yellow card, expressing his frustration at the referee’s dismissal of the incident. “The ball was off the pitch,” Ancelotti expressed to reporters after the game. “That’s the end of it. It was said by technology. I don’t know why VAR didn’t check. The referee was unconcerned about anything.”


As the match approached its conclusion, both Karim Benzema and Aurélien Tchouaméni came close to finding the net for Real Madrid, but Ederson’s heroics denied them on both occasions. With the first leg ending in a draw, the tie remains finely poised heading into the second leg. The battle between these European giants showcased moments of brilliance and contentious incidents, setting the stage for an enthralling return leg. The quest for a spot in the Champions League final continues, and both teams will undoubtedly be eager to secure victory and advance one step closer to European glory.

Haaland threat nullified

Guardiola stressed the unpredictable nature of the game, stating during an interview with BT Sport that, “When we were in control, they managed to score. We capitalized on their vulnerabilities – it was a closely contested and tense match.” Additionally, Guardiola acknowledged the significance of the upcoming crucial match against Barcelona, referring to it as a “final.” Real Madrid’s ability to replicate their successful containment of Erling Haaland’s threat from the first leg will be pivotal in their quest to secure a spot in the final in Istanbul on June 10 and win their 15th European Cup title. Haaland, who joined Manchester City last year, has consistently shattered records, amassing an impressive 12 Champions League goals this season, surpassing all other players in the league by a margin of four. With a total of 51 goals this season, the Norwegian has played a pivotal role in Manchester City’s ambitious pursuit of becoming only the second English team, after Manchester United in 1999, to secure the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup titles within a single season. However, in Tuesday’s match, Haaland found himself on the losing end, especially during intense exchanges with Antonio Rüdiger. Ancelotti acknowledged Rüdiger’s outstanding performance, stating, “He had an exceptional game, and it’s important to highlight that. However, the entire team performed admirably as we displayed a strong defensive game plan, limiting their scoring opportunities.” The recent match served as a rematch of last year’s semi-final, in which Real Madrid overcame a first-leg setback and a late second-leg deficit to emerge victorious against Liverpool in the final. The second leg of the semi-final is scheduled to take place on May 17.