Another comeback, another Champions League final for Real Madrid

The madness that had enveloped the first leg on the English lawn did not seem to have invited itself to the Santiago-Bernabéu stadium. Manchester City put on a most professional performance, and Riyad Mahrez appeared to have rescued City in the 73rd minute with a left-footed shot from the corner of the penalty area after a superb knockdown from Bernardo Silva. A goal that sent City, one could believe, to its second European final in a row, after that lost last year against Chelsea.

But the spirit of ascended has again won Real Madrid, who will have the opportunity to win their 14th European crown, on May 28, in Paris, against Liverpool.

If the first 10 minutes looked like a replica after the earthquake of the first leg – Vinicius who plays crowd leaders after a fault suffered from the first minute, useless collision between Aymeric Laporte and Luka Modric –, the 22 actors offered a more measured performance – until the inevitable late-game chaos returned.

Doomed to score after the 4-3 defeat in Manchester, the Spanish champions quickly created half chances for Karim Benzema, who sent a difficult header to the stands before unscrewing a cross from Fede Valverde.

After these chances came from the right, the hosts went to exploit the other side, that of Vinicius. Stirring as usual, the Brazilian was only allowed one shot, when he jumped on a failed clearance from Ruben Dias in the 18th minute, without too much damage. It was also from this side that Benzema served his other warning of the period, when he appeared alone in front of Ederson and shot off target – the Frenchman was however offside at the start of the action.

The visitors were not spectators, however, as Thibaut Courtois’ dive to stop a Phil Foden strike seconds before Benzema’s breakthrough at the other end of the stadium indicated. City will have framed four strikes during the first 45 minutes, against none for Real Madrid, which nevertheless created the clearest chances.

And the hosts could hardly have missed a sharper one than the one that came in the seconds after returning from the break. Three Madridistas were overlooked in the back of the defence, and a cross from Dani Carvajal leapt past Benzema to land at the feet of Vinicius, who was unable to redirect the object into a cage that was only asking for the to welcome.

The faith of the Madrid public crumbled until Mahrez’s goal, when it almost evaporated. But the remarkable intervention of Courtois on a twirling strike from Joao Cancelo, then that of Ferland Mendy, who cleared the ball on the line after an irresistible ride from Jack Grealish, kept her alive. There were only three minutes left.

Juanito, emblematic player of Real Madrid, once said that 90 minutes, at the Bernabéu, it’s a long time. Logically, the Bernabéu woke up in the 90th minute.

Benzema, again, straightened a long ball sent behind the defense, and Rodrygo drove it into the net. Some 80 seconds later, a Carvajal cross found Rodrygo’s header, already a double scorer. Los Blancos were behind 2-0 against PSG in the round of 16, 4-3 against Chelsea in the quarters and 5-3 in this semi-final. Now they forced the extension.

After his delicious panenka in the first leg, Benzema had the opportunity to add to it in the first minutes of extra time, when he suffered a foul from Ruben Dias in the box. Less flamboyant, his penalty shot into the bottom corner to the left of Ederson gave Real Madrid the lead for the first time in the series, 185 minutes later.

The visitors have tried everything so that, for the rest of the extra time, it is their hosts who feel the full weight of the seconds which pass too slowly for their taste. But they eventually passed, no doubt at lightning speed for City.

Headband check out So much soccer

Leave a Comment