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UEFA champions league ; Holders Manchester city eliminated on Penalties by Real Madrid

UEFA champions league ; Holders Manchester city eliminated on Penalties by Real Madrid

Manchester
Wednesday, 13 April, 2024

Real Madrid continued their quest for a 15th UEFA Champions League title after a dramatic 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory eliminated holders Manchester City and booked a fourth successive semi-final appearance.

Cityzens boss Pep Guardiola was able to bring back three key players into the starting XI from last week’s 3-3 draw in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in the form of goalkeeper Ederson, captain Kyle Walker and integral midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

The return of Walker might have meant Carlo Ancelotti’s ploy of overloading players down the Real Madrid left in the first leg, including Rodrygo, would not prove as fruitful this time, but it was the Brazilian international who struck after an uncharacteristically cautious opening from both clubs.

Madrid worked the ball into the right of the area well with Vinícius Júnior finding compatriot Rodrygo in space with a low centre. Ederson was perfectly positioned to repel the winger’s initial right-footed effort, but the rebound sat up invitingly for the visiting No11 to place just out of reach of his fellow countryman.

That prompted the holders to go onto the front foot, and the home side went close just seven minutes after going behind when Erling Haaland’s looping header smacked against the crossbar.

The reigning champions upped the tempo as the match wore on with Jack Grealish twice testing Andriy Lunin either side of the Real Madrid No13 denying Phil Foden.

With Guardiola in search of an equaliser, he sent Jérémy Doku into the action with 18 minutes remaining and the Belgian international was integral to the equaliser. When the tricky substitute’s cross was only partially cleared by Antonio Rüdiger, De Bruyne was on hand to scoop the ball into the roof of the net.

City could have sealed progress deep in normal time, but De Bruyne was unable to double his tally, curling a long-range effort narrowly over the bar before side-footing over from close range.

The teams were unable to maintain the intensity of the first 90 minutes in extra time, City substitute Julián Álvarez unable to beat Lunin at the goalkeeper’s near post deep into the additional half hour.

It was Lunin who proved to be the hero in the shoot-out, guessing correctly to deny Mateo Kovačić and Bernardo Silva after Ederson had stopped Luka Modrić’s kick. The 14-time winners of this competition duly confirmed their place in the last four thanks to Antonio Rüdiger’s low penalty into the bottom corner.

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