The recently crowned champions of Spain booked their place in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League final following an incredible set of events at the Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos beat Manchester City 3-1 on the night, 6-5 on aggregate.
‘Down, but not out’ has been the theme of this Real Madrid Champions League run so far. Backed into a corner against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the round of 16 and quarterfinal, respectively, Carlo Ancelotti’s side came roaring back, twice, to keep their title dreams alive. And lightning struck for the third time on Wednesday night at the Bernabeu when Real Madrid men returned from the dead to book their spot in the final.
Following a pattern that has been apparent all season, City dominated the tie. The Citizens, carrying a 4-3 lead from the first leg, hoarded the ball and created plenty, forcing Thibaut Courtois to make difficult stops early in the night.
In comparison, Real Madrid’s opportunities usually came through quick breaks and momentary lapses of concentration by the opposition. In one such instance, seconds after the restart, Dani Carvajal played an early ball into the City box that Vinicius Jr failed to keep on target, despite the goal gaping.
City broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute – adding to the aggregate, 5-3. Bernardo Silva was the creator, attracting defenders with his magnetic ball-carrying ability before playing a simple square pass to Riyad Mahrez for a thumping finish from close range.
It looked as if they would score next, too; Courtois parried away Joao Cancelo’s shot, Ferland Mendy denied Jack Grealish on the line, and then the custodian did the same.
But, Rodrygo, as he had done against Chelsea last month, turned the tie on its head – with two goals in two minutes. The Brazilian flicked Karim Benzema’s cross from close range in the 90th minute before heading in a second a minute later.
The tie now level on aggregate, extra-time ensued, and five minutes in, Los Blancos were awarded a penalty for Ruben Dias’s foul on Benzema. The Frenchman took on the responsibility himself and rolled the ball in casually to put his side ahead on aggregate, 6-5.
City threw everything forward in a desperate attempt to salvage something and were almost successful, too. In stoppage time on top of the extra time, Phil Foden rose highest to flick the ball goalwards from a Cancelo cross, but Courtois’s fingertip save kept Real Madrid on top.
The Spanish giants held on until the final whistle, ensuring a place in the final in Paris against Liverpool, which will take place on May 28.