Real Madrid beat Man City on penalties: Bellingham’s brilliance and who can stop Ancelotti’s team? – Athleticism

Real Madrid beat Man City on penalties: Bellingham’s brilliance and who can stop Ancelotti’s team?  – Athleticism

Was there always going to be a penalty shootout to separate these two great teams?

The tie ended 4-4 after 210 minutes, 1-1 after extra time at the Etihad, in captivating action, penalty misses from Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic proving costly, with the progress of Real Madrid.

After Julian Alvarez scored the first shot on goal, Ederson brilliantly saved from Luka Modric, but Silva’s decision to go down the middle was a mistake as Andriy Lunin stood tall. Jude Bellingham and Lucas Vazquez both scored either side of Kovacic’s tame effort, which was kept out by Lunin. Phil Foden, Nacho and Ederson, the City goalkeeper, all scored before Antonio Rudiger converted decisively from 12 yards.

A moment of genius from Bellingham in the build-up to Rodrygo’s 12th-minute goal had given Real the lead.

The first leg had looked like a chance for a minute, but it was much more cautious in the second encounter as City struggled to create clear-cut chances, with the 14-time champions happy to sit deep.

But City huffed and puffed and were level when substitute Jeremy Doku found Kevin De Bruyne in the box and he fired into the roof of the net from close range to restore parity and take the tie into extra time.

Erling Haaland was even taken off in the 90th minute for Alvarez, but it was the penalties that solved the problem.

AthleticismSam Lee, Daniel Taylor, Tomas Hill Lopez-Menchero and Mark Carey analyze the action at the Etihad.

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Does Bellingham have the grace of Zidane?

Perhaps it should be made mandatory that any television replay of Rodrygo’s 12th-minute goal go back far enough to include Bellingham’s contribution.

Few players would have been able to control the looping ball that Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal sent high into the sky.

Yet Bellingham’s touch to kill the ball was exquisite: a true A-lister playing at full expression.

Bellingham wanted to do more than just keep the ball close. For a player with extraordinary gifts, it was not enough to maintain possession. He wanted to run his team away, quickly and devastatingly. His move to escape Ruben Dias, the closest defender, was part of the same exercise. And, for that split second, you could hear a glimmer of worry coming from the stands.

That noise: any regular spectator knows what it sounds like when apprehension grips a crowd.

Local fans were able to recognize his genius. They were yearning for an offside decision to deny Rodrygo his goal. There was no intervention and, as the away team celebrated, we were reminded why Bellingham is an ideal wearer of Madrid’s No.5 jersey – the number, as he knew it when he chose it , which Zinedine Zidane used to wear.

Daniel Taylor

Would Rodrygo really be the man of the fall for Mbappé?

Rodrygo isn’t usually the first Madrid player to grab the headlines – it’s usually his international teammate Vinicius Junior or Bellingham who steal the show.

With Kylian Mbappe expected to join Paris Saint-Germain this summer, some Spanish media outlets have speculated that Rodrygo will be the player to make way for the Frenchman in Madrid’s star-studded attack. This is partly due to the Brazilian’s record this season: he had scored 16 goals in 43 games before this match, but has endured several goal droughts.

Rodrygo celebrates the first goal (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

This did not deter Rodrygo. He played a key role on the left in last week’s first leg at the Bernabeu, in which he scored Madrid’s second goal, and it was the same again at the Etihad. His first goal illustrates his dedication: he sliced ​​his first shot at City goalkeeper Ederson but was quick to react to convert the rebound. It was Rodrygo’s fourth goal in three games after seven games without scoring. The arrival of Mbappé is unlikely to bother him.

Tomas Hill López-Menchero

Does De Bruyne ever panic?

By the time De Bruyne broke Madrid’s resistance, City had Kyle Walker in central midfield, Manuel Akanji operating as a virtual center forward and all the players in light blue were within 30 meters of the opposition goal. And it wasn’t a corner or another set play, it was just the weight of pressure from open play.

A few minutes earlier, Jack Grealish’s number had appeared on the substitutions table and his reaction told a different story. From one side of the pitch to the other, Grealish sprinted, desperate not to lose precious seconds.

In other words, things were getting seriously tense before Antonio Rudiger’s inability to clear his lines worked against his own team. De Bruyne suddenly finds the ball at his feet, 10 meters from the goal.

De Bruyne’s fine finish sent the tie into extra time (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

A lesser player could have rushed his shot. But come on, when does De Bruyne panic in these moments? That said, he missed an opportunity to settle the tie in regulation time.

Daniel Taylor

Have City finally figured out Ancelotti’s tactics?

The 14-time European champions are rarely seen playing underdog football, but Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics have been effective for long periods.

Knowing the threat Manchester City pose going forward, they kept a compact defensive structure and allowed City to circulate possession from one side to the other, waiting for their moment to launch the counter-attack.

As Madrid moved to fill the gaps, City couldn’t get through the block, so they were forced to go around it. Their 30 crosses before extra time were more than any Champions League game this season, showing just how incapable they were of penetrating the center of the field.

There were occasional runs from De Bruyne behind the Madrid defense and a seductive strike from Bernardo Silva in the back post, but Madrid largely contained the City threat for long periods.

City persisted and the arrival of Doku was too much for the tired legs of the Madrid defense. A shoulder drop, a bounce and a shimmy, and Doku’s cross was cleared by Antonio Rudiger but straight into the path of De Bruyne, who fired into the roof of the net. It was a resilient strategy from City, but they finally found the breakthrough in their 28th attempt.

Marc Carey

Did Doku make the difference?

Jack Grealish should in no way be ashamed of his performance – he was good that night and brought the sort of things he always brings to that left-hand side – but he was sacrificed for the greater good.

City already had control of the match and Madrid on the ropes, so they needed the kind of spark that Doku is more likely to provide. The Belgian winger has returned to good form of late after a difficult spell in the new year and he had no fear of tearing Madrid apart when his side needed a goal.

Doku played a key role in the equalizer (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Carvajal had no idea which way he would go next and even when Doku wasn’t heading to the line himself, he had the know-how to slide Akanji, who provided a chance on a plate to De Bruyne which should have led to City’s second goal. City had been pushing for an equalizer since they fell behind, but it seemed like it was only after the introduction of Doku that they started to get closer.

Sam Lee

How will Haaland react to his replacement?

There are always raised eyebrows when Haaland is sent off before the game is won, as it was probably the second time it has happened since he arrived at City almost two years ago. Much is still made of his contribution when he’s not scoring and, unless this borders on wild exaggerations about League Two, it has merit.

Haaland had to watch overtime from the bench (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

His hold-up game hasn’t been the best lately, but the fact remains that even when he’s not actually contributing with touches, he’s forcing the opposition to do something they don’t want to do.

Last week he occupied two Madrid defenders, and this weekend he forced Luton Town to abandon their usual man-to-man press. But once the 90 minutes were up, Guardiola opted for something different: the all-action style and more touches from Alvarez.

The Argentine striker offered more touches but little substance, with Madrid absolutely occupying midfield, and he was less likely to win a header than Haaland, who won a few but couldn’t make them count. Haaland, of course, is City’s penalty taker.

What impact did Madrid fatigue have on them?

As extra time approached, Madrid looked exhausted. That was perhaps to be expected against a relentless City side, but it looked like things were only going one way once De Bruyne equalized in the 76th minute.

Ancelotti’s defensive plan had worked well up to that point, but from that point on Madrid seemed unable to get out of their own half. City began to target Madrid on their right side – where veteran Carvajal looked no match for Doku – and the introductions of Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz did not seem to help.

Vinicius Jr’s substitution for Lucas Vazquez in the 102nd minute suggested Ancelotti was happy to play on penalties.

But it was still Guardiola’s team that created more and tested the limits of Madrid’s defense. And yet, Madrid regularly seems to find its way in this competition. Job done for Ancelotti.

Tomas Hill López-Menchero

What did Pep Guardiola say?

“Football is about scoring goals and they did it a little better than us from the penalty spot. They are in the semi-final, not us. Small margins. It’s like that. Sometimes we win on penalties, sometimes not.

“I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to these players for the way they played. But football is about winning and we didn’t do enough and yet we were exceptional.

“But in the game we didn’t convert the chances we had, even though we defended very well. Everyone played at a high level. We said we had to be at our best to play Real Madrid and they did it.

What did Carlo Ancelotti say?

He told Movistar: “How can we explain all this? We started well, we moved forward and then we had to fight to survive, we had to suffer. City were in control because we were defending too deep.

“We defended really well. It was a question of survival. Madrid is a club that always fights to stay in situations where there seems to be no way out – but we always find a way.

“By the time the penalty shootout took place, we were totally convinced that we were going to qualify. It’s pretty much the only way to come to City and win. You work, sacrifice and earn however you can. Pep is a gentleman, always has been. He congratulated us, wished us luck and that’s what a true gentleman does.

What future for Manchester City?

Saturday April 20: Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final, 5:15 p.m. UK, 12:15 p.m. ET

What future for Real Madrid?

Sunday April 21: Barcelona (M), La Liga, 8 p.m. UK, 3 p.m. ET

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(Top photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images))


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