Manchester City defeated league leaders Real Madrid 4-0 on Wednesday to go to the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons (5-1 on aggregate).
When it came to the 14-time European winners, Bernardo Silva’s two goals in the first half gave City the upper hand. Later, an own goal by Eder Militao and a fourth goal by Julian Alvarez let Pep Guardiola’s team avenge their heartbreaking semifinal defeat from the previous year.
After losing to Chelsea two years ago, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour will now be strong favorites to finally deliver the trophy he has wanted since purchasing the club in 2008. Inter Milan will be waiting in the final.
Since Portuguese midfielder Silva beat Thibaut Courtois with a shot in the 23rd minute and then headed in his team’s second in the 37th, City has gone undefeated in 26 home games in the competition.
In the second half, Real, the current champions looking to capture the trophy for the sixth time in ten years, were outplayed by a tenacious City team pursuing a treble.
After Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick off Militao in the 76th minute, Carlo Ancelotti’s team was unable to recover.
After coming on as a late replacement for Erling Haaland, Alvarez added the cherry on top of a spectacular evening for City with a cool finish.
Before kickoff, there was a sense of expectation and tension within City’s stronghold, which was made even stronger by the fact that the match was advertised as a de facto final with Inter, who was waiting for the winners despite a lackluster Serie A season, playing in their first final in 13 years.
The only lineup alteration from the thrilling 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu last week was Antonio Rudiger’s replacement by Militao in Real’s rearguard.
Similar to the Spanish capital, City established an early stranglehold, making it nearly hard for Real to leave their own half after only managing to put together two passes.
Real’s Thibaut Courtois twice made amazing saves on point-blank Haaland headers throughout the first 20 minutes of play to keep his team in the game.
Silva’s left-footed drive from the right outside of the penalty box, which was City’s eighth goal attempt in the first 23 minutes, finally broke the deadlock despite the constant pressure from City.
Real didn’t even launch an attack for thirty minutes, and even then Kyle Walker of City beat Vinicius Jr. in a run to put an end to the threat.
Then, City goalkeeper Ederson, who had been watching, deflected Toni Kroos’ dipping right-foot drive against the crossbar. Kroos is one of five current Real players to have won the trophy five times with the Spanish club.
A one-goal lead was always going to be risky against Real’s winning streak, but Silva ensured City had a chance to go to the championship game by reacting quickly to loop a header into the back of the net after Ilkay Gundogan’s shot was stopped.
For the remainder of the half, City played tag with the 14-time winners and had a chance to go ahead by more.
Six minutes after halftime, David Alaba’s diving free shot was miraculously saved by Ederson, giving Real the hope they so desperately needed.
With yet another stop from Haaland, Courtois tried his best to keep Ancelotti’s team in the game as the Norwegian waited for his 53rd goal of an extraordinary campaign.
But when De Bruyne’s curled free kick deflected off Militao and into the net, any hopes of a repeat of last year’s incredible comeback were dashed. Real won 6-5 on aggregate.
In stoppage time, Alvarez then fired a first-time shot into the bottom corner.
With a certain spot in the Istanbul championship, City can win the Premier League this weekend for the fifth time in six years, and they also have the FA Cup final to look forward to.