The record 14-time winners knocked City out at the same stage last season despite being outplayed in both games, and took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu against the run of play
Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Pic/AFP
Kevin De Bruyne's brilliant drive earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in a gripping Champions League semi-final first leg battle on Tuesday. The Belgian slammed Pep Guardiola's visitors level after Vinicius Junior opened the scoring for the reigning champions from distance in similarly spectacular fashion. Madrid managed to completely shackle lethal striker Erling Haaland but De Bruyne's powerful effort left the tie on a knife edge ahead of the second leg in Manchester next week. The record 14-time winners knocked City out at the same stage last season despite being outplayed in both games, and took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu against the run of play.
However when Madrid found their stride in the second half, City -- still chasing their first ever Champions League trophy -- hit back through De Bruyne. Madrid central defenders David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger did not give Haaland room to breathe. "We have to see if we can attack (better), Alaba and Rudiger were so close on Erling," Guardiola told reporters. "It was not easy to find the spaces. We'll try to adjust something in the second leg to be more fluid and play with a bit more rhythm." The visitors controlled much of the first half, with nearly 70 percent possession, but went in trailing at the break.
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Thibaut Courtois fielded an early barrage of shots from De Bruyne, Rodri and Haaland, as City dominated and Madrid sat back, soaking up the pressure. The hosts took the lead through a lethal counter-attack 10 minutes before the break, with Eduardo Camavinga surging past Bernardo Silva, tearing into space and feeding Vinicius. The Brazilian arrowed a strike into the top left corner from almost 25 yards, past Ederson's helpless dive. It was Madrid's only shot in the first half, but the game's most effective one. "It's normal that City have the ball, we don't have to go mad about that," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "After the goal we played very well, controlling the space, creating things, we played very well, I hope we can repeat it in the second leg."
Haaland shut down
Alaba thwarted Haaland with a fine block early in the second half, as Madrid kept the Norwegian goal machine under lock and key on his first appearance against them. Madrid did not allow him a clear sight of goal, ensuring he could not add to his 51 goals from 46 games this season across all competitions. Rudiger, who played ahead of the suspended Eder Militao, put in one of the best performances of his Madrid career. "He had a fantastic game, clearly we have to highlight that," said Ancelotti. "But everyone did, because defensively we did very well, they did not make many chances. "They scored from outside the box ... because the team had a great game on a defensive level."
Madrid's pressing was greatly improved after the break and they pinned City back at times, showing far more initiative than they offered at the start. However with Los Blancos ascendent, City sucker-punched them, just as Madrid did to the Premier League leaders in the first half. De Bruyne slammed the visitors level with a shot from the same range as Vinicius's opener, at the same end, hammered low past Courtois. "We started really well and then Vinicius finished cleverly," said Guardiola.
"Then when they were better than us, we scored a goal. We go to Manchester, it will be a final." Ederson palmed away a Karim Benzema header and a vicious Aurelien Tchouameni effort in the final stages ensuring whoever wins next week progresses. "At the Etihad at the moment we feel unstoppable," warned City winger Jack Grealish. "I really enjoyed it tonight, I loved it." The second leg takes place on May 17, with the winner facing Inter Milan or AC Milan in the final.
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