Real Madrid and Manchester City played out a pulsating 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Despite facing an intimidating Bernabeu atmosphere, Man City asserted themselves early on in proceedings. The Premier League champs enjoyed over 70% possession in the first quarter of the game – typical of a Pep Guardiola side.
However, City could not translate their control into clear openings for Erling Haaland and Co.
Los Blancos were also quick to remind the visitors of the threat that they posed. When Rodri coughed up possession to Vinicius Jr, it took a brilliant Ruben Dias block to prevent Karim Benzema from an easy tap-in.
Then it was Vinicius Jr that conjured up a moment of magic to give Real the lead on 36 minutes. Following a one-two with Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga made a lung-bursting run through City’s midfield. He then found the Brazilian winger, who unleashed a venomous shot past his compatriot Ederson into the net.
How do Real Madrid do it? Somehow, some way, the 14-time champions of Europe went in at the break with an advantage.
The hosts began the second half in a much more aggressive mood than the first. Real enjoyed increased possession, whilst continually threatening the opposing penalty area. But Manchester City – reverting to a back four when defending – held firm against the Real Madrid pressure.
They looked to break on the counter instead, although Haaland saw his only half-chance blocked by David Alaba.
The Citizens brought themselves level thanks to another fantastic strike. Ilkay Gundogan rolled the ball to Kevin de Bruyne, who delivered an excellent, low-driven shot that gave Courtois no chance.
A finely balanced final 20 minutes saw chances few and far between. Substitute Aurelien Tchouameni shot a speculative effort, but Ederson was equal to it.
Additionally, a series of chippy fouls from both teams seemed to nullify any particular rhythm for both sides. These infringements also saw Eduardo Camavinga, Ilkay Gundogan, and Bernardo Silva pick up bookings.
Pep Guardiola will likely be happy to head back to Manchester all-square. Meanwhile, Real Madrid may have preferred an advantage for the reverse fixture. Although they have repeatedly proven that they can switch it on when it matters.
The Real Madrid v Manchester City tie is finely balanced ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on 17 May. Following this, the victor must wait to see the winner of the Milan derby in the other semi-final before knowing their opponent for the final.
Featured image credit: Getty