Iheanacho’s brace for Manchester against Stoke City in EPL and Gareth Bale’s double for Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano in La Liga warms up both teams for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final clash
London: Champions League semi-final opponents Manchester City and Real Madrid had perfect tune-ups to their big mid-week clash with contrasting victories in their respective national leagues on Saturday.
Man City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring against Stoke City in an EPL tie on Saturday
While teenager Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice for City against Stoke in the EPL, Gareth Bale’s brace inspired a Real Madrid fightback from two goals down to win 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano and move top of La Liga.
Real Madrid’s Welsh striker Gareth Bale (in dark blue) rises above a couple of Rayo Vallecano defenders to score during their Spanish League match at the Vallecas Stadium in Madrid on Saturday. Pics/AFP
Man City in third spot Iheanacho (19) struck twice within 10 second-half minutes, adding to goals by Fernando and Sergio Aguero, to lift City, who host Madrid in the first leg of their last-four tie on Tuesday, back above Arsenal to third place.
Fernando broke the deadlock with a header from Jesus Navas’ 35th-minute corner and top scorer Sergio Aguero added a second from the penalty spot after Ryan Shawcross had fouled Iheanacho. Pablo Zabaleta teed up Iheanacho to slot in City's third goal in the 64th minute and the Nigeria international sealed the win by gathering Wilfried Bony’s pass and rounding substitute goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard to score.
Meanwhile, in Madrid, without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s title hopes looked in tatters when early goals from Adrian Embarba and Miku put Rayo 2-0 in front. However, Bale’s powerful header halved the deficit before half-time and he fired home the winner nine minutes from time after Lucas Vazquez had equalised early in the second period. Madrid though saw striker Karim Benzema suffer a worrying injury to his right leg during the clash. He had to leave the field after 42 minutes.
Real now lead Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by two points, but they can move back in front at the top of the table when they host Sporting Gijon and Malaga respectively later on Saturday.
Ronaldo was missing for the first time in La Liga this season due to a thigh injury.