MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City dismantled Real Madrid 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to reserve a spot in the Champions League final and stay on track for the treble. The reigning European champions were blown away thanks to two first-half goals from Bernardo Silva, an own goal from Eder Militao after the break and a late fourth from substitute Julian Alvarez.
City will face Inter Milan in the final in Istanbul next month, in what could be the final leg of the treble if they also clinch the Premier League title and FA Cup. Pep Guardiola’s side are now just three wins away from matching a feat achieved only once before in English football, by Manchester United in 1999.
1. Man City march to the treble
While Chelsea, Brighton, Brentford, Manchester United and Inter Milan will have a say in how many trophies City win this season, this was their toughest test of the treble run-in and Real Madrid, ‘Kings of the Champions League’, were knocked out by a team that played with such swagger that they seem destined to win it all.
There were occasional scares when Toni Kroos hit the crossbar and it took Ederson to save a fingertip from David Alaba’s free-kick, but for most of the evening City dominated the game’s 14-time winners. At half-time, Guardiola’s team led 2-0 after having almost 80% of possession, and in the first 20 minutes Real Madrid couldn’t even touch the ball in the attacking third of the field. In the same period, City had 107.
As Inter Milan waited in Istanbul on June 10, this was billed as the final for the final and City spent most of the night in cruise control. They are three wins away from the treble and in this form they will never have a better chance to write themselves in the history books.
2.Silva a crucial cog in Guardiola’s winning machine
This is a superstar City team, but Silva’s importance to this team cannot be understated. In Guardiola’s eternal quest for complete control of a football match, the Portuguese midfielder helps him get close by holding the ball when City have it and chasing it when they don’t. Two goals in the first half were the highlight of his performance against Real Madrid, but his whole side exuded class and intelligence.
His movement for City’s opener was so good, drifting into a space in the penalty area large enough that when Kevin De Bruyne looked up to slide through the pass, it was probably one of the easiest assists he’s ever had. The finish was devastatingly calm – as was his second, when he could have easily headed the ball into Alaba on the line, but instead led it into the corner.
This will probably always be a season remembered for Erling Haaland’s goals, but the City fans who flocked to the Etihad week in and week out will know the huge role played by players like Silva. He is only the third player to score two or more goals in a Champions League semi-final tie against Real Madrid, after Lionel Messi in 2011 and Robert Lewandowski in 2013. This was his night.
3. Real Madrid’s crown slips on a miserable evening in Manchester
Ancelotti will feel the tie wasn’t really over until City’s third goal in the 76th minute, but the sign was on the wall long before that. Few teams could choke Real Madrid in the Champions League, but City’s first half was so impressive that when Madrid’s players ran out before the start of the second half, a few of them looked like they already knew that the game was over.
There was a moment in the first half when Rodrygo kicked a ball to the left for Vinicius Junior to chase. The Etihad Stadium held its breath as one of Madrid’s biggest attacking threats sprinted towards the penalty area, but before he could even get a toe to the ball, Kyle Walker had eaten up the floor in front of him, clearing away any danger with minimal fuss. . Everywhere you looked, City players were winning.
Karim Benzema barely got a view of goal and Luka Modric was so overwhelmed in midfield that he was substituted after an hour. Real Madrid have had some tense nights in the Champions League and they’re likely to make more of them in the future, but this was a cathartic experience in a tournament they like to think of as their own.
Best and worst performers
Best: Bernardo Silva, MF, Manchester City
Guardiola’s man for the big occasions, his two goals put City 2-0 up at half-time.
Best: Kyle Walker, DF, Manchester City
The preparation for the match was all about his duel with Vinicius Junior and he was the clear winner of the night.
Best: Thibaut Courtois, GK, Real Madrid
The goalkeeper made two incredible saves from Haaland headers in the first half, the second of which was particularly impressive.
Worst: Dani Carvajal, DF, Real Madrid
Turned inside out by Jack Grealish and eventually resorted to kicking him before getting out early.
Worst: Luka Modric, MF, Real Madrid
Struggled to get the ball as City swarmed all over Madrid in the first half, being substituted after an hour.
Worst: Eduardo Camavinga, DF, Real Madrid
Playing out of position at left back, he couldn’t handle Silva’s move.
Highlights and notable moments
After completely dominating Real Madrid in the opening stages of the game, Silva scored the first for City with a fantastic strike.
ADVANTAGE CITY. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/79nYaSrGLM
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 17, 2023
Silva then doubled for City with a calm and level-headed mind.
“THEY HAVE BRIGHT DAYLIGHT…”
BERNARDO SILVA DOUBLE LEADING OF MANCHESTER CITY! 💫 pic.twitter.com/8BZ2uCz0NR
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 17, 2023
City set the tone from the start and were in complete control of the game.
Real Madrid finished the first half with 10 touches in the attacking third.
Man City had 196 😳 pic.twitter.com/eFQfuPfN7T
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 17, 2023
After the game: what the managers and players said
Bernardo Silva, speaking to BT Sport: “It’s a wonderful night for us. We know it was going to be difficult, but to win 4-0 at home against this Real Madrid team was great. Hopefully we win it.”
Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid defender: “We played a rival who was better than us in this match – they overpowered us quite a bit.”
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
Today marked Carlo Ancelotti’s 191st game as head coach in the UEFA Champions League, passing Sir Alex Ferguson (190) for the most in UCL history
Second career UCL brace for Bernardo Silva in UCL (also 15 February 2022)
Bernardo Silva’s past nine UCL goals have been scored in the knockout stage
Kevin De Bruyne: 25 assists in all competitions this season. No other player from Europe’s top five leagues has more than 19 (Messi, Vinicius)
Man City’s 196 attacking third touches are the most Real Madrid have allowed in the first half of a LaLiga or UCL game since at least 2010/11
Pep Guardiola (MNC): Advances to 4th European Cup final, tied for second all-time after Carlo Ancelotti
This match equaled Real Madrid’s biggest margin of defeat in their Champions League history (4–0 loss to Liverpool in round of 16 2008–09)
Madrid: Los Blancos will end the season winning the Copa del Rey title with Barcelona who captured LaLiga last weekend, and they will return to competition on Sunday when they travel to Valencia (watch live on ESPN+ at 12:30pm ET).
Manchester City: As City chase the treble it’s back to Premier League action as they host a struggling Chelsea side on Sunday. Pep Guardiola’s side will then travel to Brighton on May 24.
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