Superb strikes from Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne in either half saw Real Madrid and Manchester City draw 1-1 in a high-quality first leg of their Champions League semifinal at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.
In a rematch of last season’s dramatic semifinal, holders Madrid withstood City’s dominance in the first half before Vinicius capped a lightning break with a superb long-range effort in the 36th minute.
But the visitors responded with a sensational shot of their own to draw level midway through the second half. Just as Madrid were threatening to extend their lead, De Bruyne beat Thibaut Courtois from outside the box to bring the tie level.
Given how last year’s semifinal went, when Madrid went into the 90th minute of the second leg at the Bernabeu trailing by two goals and somehow came back to win in extra time, City will likely be the happier to walk away from the Spanish capital with the score tied heading to Manchester.
That will be especially true after Madrid took control of the game in the second half and threatened to turn the tie firmly in their favour. But Madrid, the record 14-time winners of the competition, have shown time and again in recent years that they can never be written off and are unlikely to hold any fear about the task that awaits them at the Etihad Stadium in eight days’ time.
“It was a shame that we conceded that goal,” Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said. “I think we deserved more. They had more possession but didn’t create a lot of chances. It’s still 50-50 and we will go into the second match with confidence.”
For a long time on Tuesday, it looked like it would be another classic Madrid Champions League victory.
Man City grabbed control of the game from the early exchanges, dominating possession and suffocating the hosts with their pressing. But Madrid’s deep-sitting defense, featuring Antonio Rudiger in for the suspended Eder Militao, were able to restrict City to half-chances.
Then with their only shot of the first half, Madrid went in front. Eduardo Camavinga, playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, was the creator, driving forward from deep inside his own half before laying it inside to Vinicius, who took the ball onto his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable strike past Ederson from almost 30 yards.
Just three days on from creating both goals in Madrid’s Copa del Rey final win over Osasuna, Vinicius again came up big to stun the Premier League leaders and derail their momentum.
Despite finishing the first half with almost 70% possession, City’s deficit was almost doubled right after half-time as Madrid continued to show their attacking threat.
Karim Benzema came close to a 21st Champions League goal against English opposition with a left-footed shot that went just over the bar, while an ambitious penalty appeal for a handball against Jack Grealish was waved away.
But unlike a year ago, City did not wilt in the face of pressure from the kings of Europe. In the 67th minute, Rodri crucially intercepted a pass from Camavinga deep inside Madrid’s half, Ilkay Gundogan laid the ball off to De Bruyne and the Belgian was allowed the space to line up a perfectly struck drive past Courtois and pull City level.
Madrid still had another chance to get the advantage for the second leg but Ederson produced a fine one-handed stop to keep out a far-post header from Benzema.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.