Real Madrid enter Champions League final
Real Madrid defeated Manchester City 1-0 on aggregate and will face cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three years. Madrid, winners of a record 10 Champions League trophies, are headed to their 14th final on May 28 in Milan, reports Efe.
With everything still to be played for after the teams battled to a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Manchester, Real Madrid were boosted by the return to the line-up of starman Cristiano Ronaldo, while the visitors saw captain and defensive anchor Vincent Kompany leave the field injured in the 10th minute.
Ronaldo, still bothered by the injury that kept him out of the first leg, got the first chance of the night in the 13th minute, but his header didn’t find the net.
Minutes later came the stroke of luck that every team needs to win big games, as City defender Fernando inadvertently diverted Gareth Bale’s cross past goalkeeper Joe Hart to put Real Madrid up 1-0.
City, who could have seized the advantage with an away goal, struggled to mount any kind of threat and Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas – who has not conceded at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the current Champions League campaign – was not tested at all in the first half.
The visitors’ only opportunity before the break came in the 45th minute, when Fernandinho hit the post.
In the second half, Real Madrid emphasised on defence without discarding the option of getting a second goal on the counterattack.
City provided Madrid with plenty of chances, but the hosts lacked the capacity to turn those opportunities into goals and when they did put the ball on target, Hart – the hero for City in the first leg – was equal to the task.
The visiting keeper also got some help from the woodwork, as the crossbar stopped a header from Bale in the 63rd minute.
The English side, playing in their first-ever Champions League semi-final, pressed hard in the final 20 minutes and the stands at the Bernabeu grew still when Kevin De Bruyne hit the side of the net with a free kick in the 84th minute.
There was also a collective intake of breath as a long shot from an otherwise ineffectual Sergio Aguero beat Keylor Navas only to sail just over the crossbar.
Real Madrid can now look forward to a rematch with Atletico, the team they beat in extra time in 2014 to hoist the Champions League trophy for the 10th time. (IANS)