Pep Guardiola produced a tactical masterclass to upstage Zinedine Zidane and his men as City gained easy passage through to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester City took advantage of two howlers by Real defender Raphael Varane, as they made it through to the Champions League quarter-finals winning 2-1 at the Etihad and 4-2 on aggregate.
Real Madrid needed to put the pressure on City early on and get themselves into the game but it was the hosts who added to their first-leg advantage. Gabriel Jesus capitalised on the lackadaisical defending from Varane on his own byline then squared for Raheem Sterling to tap home for his 100th Manchester City goal as early as the 9th minute of the game.
The task grew even more difficult for Madrid as they needed to score at least two away goals to qualify, but they got their equaliser in the 28th minute of the game through their top scorer this season, Karim Benzema, from a header off a cross from Rodrygo.
Madrid was the architect of their own downfall as they continued to live dangerously with the ball deep in their half, and City eventually put the game to bed as Jesus moved to capitalise on a weak Varane back pass to poke home the winner.
Real definitely suffered for the absence of their inspirational captain, Sergio Ramos, who is suspended for the game as Varane looked very uncomfortable in the heart of the defence, eventually costing them the game.
Pep Guardiola and his boys will now travel to Lisbon to face Lyon on 15 August for the single-leg quarter-final as they continue chasing that elusive first Champions League crown.
Watch the match highlights below
Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, says after the game: “We created a lot of chances and scored two goals with mistakes from them. We tried to convince them to go, go and attack but it is not easy against this team.
“It is important, we beat them twice. Zinedine Zidane never lost knockout games. You see the calm and personality they play with, they are good. We are here to try and win the Champions League. It is one step if we think that is enough we will show how small we are. If you want to win you have to beat the big clubs.
“I just spoke with the scouting department (about Lyon) and they told me to be alert. We have eight days to prepare for it. We will enjoy it and then after we will think about Lyon.”
Real boss Zinedine Zidane, on the other hand, says: “We can’t be happy obviously, we have lost the game and we are out. We are proud of what we achieved this season, this is football. We lost to a good team and have to accept it. We had our chances to score.
“95 per cent of what we achieved this season has been excellent. We have to accept this. We need to be very proud of what we have achieved.”
City would be happy the tie turned out this way as it seemed more like Madrid gifted them passage into the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League.
The La Liga champions haven’t played any competitive football since they finished the season on the 17th of July and it was evident in the way they started off the game on the night.
Sergio Ramos, who was suspended having been sent off in the first leg, was also a grave miss for the Galacticos as Real were poor defensively throughout.
Varane was too slow on the ball early on at the touchline, inviting Gabriel Jesus to rob him, before squaring for Sterling to easily tap home from 10 yards with just Real defender Dani Carvajal on the line.
For longer periods after the first City goal, it was a continuous assault in Real’s defensive third but they managed to drag themselves back in the tie with a goal from Karim Benzema.
Eventually, Madrid caved due to defensive errors yet again from Rafael Varane who got lost under a long ball up, allowing it to bounce, before a weak header to Courtois got intercepted by Jesus who poked home from a tight angle to give City breathing space.
Stats and facts from the game (Backed by Opta)
- Manchester City’s victory marks the first time an English side have won both legs in a Champions League knockout tie against Spanish opposition since 2008/09, when Liverpool won 5-0 on aggregate against Real Madrid.
- Real Madrid have been eliminated before the quarter-finals in consecutive Champions League campaigns for the first time since 2009/10 – they had reached at least the semi-finals in each of the eight seasons between 2010/11 and 2017/18.
- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is the third individual to eliminate Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League on more than one occasion, along with Marcello Lippi (1995/96, 2002/03) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (2000/01, 2006/07).
- Zinedine Zidane was eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time as Real Madrid manager, having progressed from each of the previous 12.
- In their 76th Champions League match, Manchester City scored their 150th and conceded their 100th goal in the competition – the fastest to both figures for any English side in the competition.