Connect with us


Manchester City’s Double Treble Dreams Shattered by Madrid’s Kings of Europe



Manchester City‘s dreams of becoming the first English side to retain the Champions League were dramatically shattered on a tense night at the Etihad Stadium. Despite dominating large periods against Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola’s side succumbed to the Spanish giants’ incredible knack for finding a way in Europe’s elite competition, losing 4-3 on penalties after the pulsating tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

It was Madrid’s record 14-time winners who prevailed in the end, as they so often do on these big European nights. Despite City taking a whopping 33 shots, creating chance after chance, it was Real who held their nerve from the penalty spot to book a semi-final showdown against Bayern Munich.

As the shoot-out commenced, Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne saw their spot-kicks saved by the heroic Andriy Lunin in Madrid’s goal. When Bernardo Silva hit a tame penalty straight at the Ukrainian keeper and Mateo Kovacic crashed his effort against the post, the decisive moment had arrived.

Up stepped Antonio Rudiger, the former Chelsea defender relishing these high-pressure situations. The German international made no mistake, firing low into the bottom left corner to spark delirium in the away end and send Real’s traveling fans into raptures.  

For City, it was a devastating way to exit the competition after such a valiant effort over the two legs. They had played the majority of the football, and controlled large spells of the tie, but ultimately paid the price for not making their dominance count when it mattered most.

Despite edging ahead on aggregate early on through Rodrygo’s cool 12th-minute finish, City laid siege to the Madrid goal in the second half as the visitors became increasingly desperate. Haaland struck the woodwork, De Bruyne blazed over from point-blank range and Lunin made a string of crucial saves.

Eventually, the pressure told as De Bruyne swept home a deserved equalizer on 76 minutes after brilliant work by Jack Grealish down the left. City laid siege to the Madrid goal in the dying stages but couldn’t find the winner their performance deserved.

As the match drifted into extra time, weary limbs took hold and clear-cut chances became fewer and farther between. When the dreaded penalty shootout arrived, the momentum seemed to shift in Real’s favor.

Guardiola’s men visibly tightened up, the enormity of the occasion perhaps weighing heavy. In contrast, Real’s experienced campaigners appeared completely unfazed, fully trusting in their ability to find a way to win from the most precarious positions.

And so it proved, as the masters of capturing dramatic European glory once again prevailed over the preeminent domestic force. For all of City’s quality and control, in the white-hot cauldron of huge Champions League knockout ties, Madrid has no peers when handling the pressure.

After the heartbreak, Guardiola was left to rue his side’s inability to kill the tie off earlier when so supremely on top. “Sometimes you can win on penalties and sometimes you cannot. But in the game, we did not convert the chances that we had,” the Catalan admitted.

“Football is about scoring goals and they did it a little better than us from the penalty spot. Small margins. It is what it is.”

For Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, it was yet another case of finding a way to survive and advance. The Italian becomes the first coach ever to take four different clubs to the Champions League semi-finals.

“This is about the only way you can come to City and win. You work, sacrifice, and win however you can,” Ancelotti said after the breathless encounter.

“Madrid is a club based on always fighting to stay in situations where there seems to be no way out – but we always find a way.”

Those words will offer little consolation to the crestfallen City players. For the second time in four seasons, they exit Europe’s premier club competition with a sense of what might have been after narrowly failing to beat Real.

But Ancelotti’s pragmatic winners showed once again why they remain the aristocrats of this competition. When the stakes are highest and the pressure is most intense, Real Madrid simply cannot be discounted from the grandest stages.

City’s quest to become just the fourth club in history to win a consecutive Champions League will have to wait for another season. In Madrid, their perennial continental superiors, they were simply beaten by the masters of European Cup knockout ties.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *