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Place in final to be decided at Bernabéu

MATCH REPORT. 26/04/2022. Alberto Navarro. Photographer: Antonio Villalba y Helios de la Rubia

A Benzema brace and a sublime Vini Jr. effort leave the tie wide open and Madrid needing to stage a fightback in front of the home fans next Wednesday.

The outcome of this tussle for a spot in the Champions League final will be decided next Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabéu. A brace from Karim Benzema, who was making his 600th appearance for the club and is now the leading marksman in this season’s edition of Europe’s elite club competition, and a stunning Vini Jr effort leave this tie wide open as Real Madrid will bid to turn the scoreline around with the backing of the home fans in just over a week’s time (9pm CET kick-off). Carlo Ancelotti’s charges once again produced another lesson in survival after finding themselves two goals down on no fewer than three occasions (at 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2). “We’ll need our fans more than ever and we’re going to win the game, which will be magical”, insisted Benzema at the full-time whistle. Our stadium is already preparing to will the team on to victory.

Reverting back to tonight’s action, Madrid’s task became an uphill struggle right from the off. With barely 10 minutes on the clock, Manchester City were 2-0 to the good courtesy of goals from De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesús. The Whites simply had to respond and Vini Jr. came close to reducing the arrears, only for John Stones to produce a crucial block to send his effort behind for a corner. Our team applied a higher press and the contest had now become an end-to-end affair. Riyad Mahrez had the chance to score on 26’ and Phil Foden could have netted three minutes later as both unleashed efforts from inside the box that flashed narrowly wide of the upright. Meanwhile, down the other end, David Alaba’s towering header with half an hour played was just centimetres from finding the target.

Benzema beauty
Ancelotti’s troops had managed to curb the host’s initial surge and cut the deficit in the 33rd minute, when Benzema met Ferland Mendy’s cross with a first-time left-footed finish that struck the post on its way into the net. Two minutes later, Rodrygo came close to levelling matters with a rasping effort from inside the area that Ederson punched behind for a corner.

Video.4-3: Place in final to be decided at Bernabéu

The hosts started the second half with the same intensity as they showed from the beginning of the clash. In the 48th minute of play, Mahrez rattled the post when played through on Thibaut Courtois’ goal and Dani Carvajal made a goal-saving clearance from Foden’s rebound. Five minutes later, the England attacker made no mistake when he headed in his team’s third from inside the six-yard box. The madridistas response came barely two minutes later. Vini Jr. produced a neat turn to beat Fernandinho on the halfway line before sprinting in on goal and slotting the ball past Ederson to bring the visitors back into the game in some style.

The intensity of the game showed no signs of fading and Militão came a whisker away from making it 3-3, but his headed effort went straight into the hands of the home keeper on 57’. City then extended their lead once again on 74’ when Bernardo Silva swerved a sublime strike into the top corner after the referee had allowed play to continue from a foul on the edge of the area. With the score at 4-2 and more than a quarter of the clash to play, the Whites pulled another goal back in the 82nd minute. Benzema got his second of the evening when he scored a Panenka-style penalty, after Laporte had handled in the box, to bring the tie back to 4-3 with everything to be decided in the return leg at the Bernabéu.

Benzema has netted in each of his last four Champions League outings

Karim Benzema has now scored nine goals in four consecutive Champions League appearances. The French striker is also the top scorer in the competition with 14 goals.

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Timeline

The referee

István Kovács (Romania), assisted by Vasile Florin Marinescu and Ovidiú Artene. Sandro Schärer was the fourth official and Marco Fritz the video assistant referee.

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