City overpowers Real (4-0) and is in Champions League final for second time

City overpowers Real (4-0) and is in Champions League final for second time
Joy at Haaland, Silva and Grealish.

NOS Soccer

In a true gala performance, especially before halftime, Manchester City qualified for the final of the Champions League. Pep Guardiola’s formation relegated defending champion Real Madrid in England to a bunch of extras: 4-0.

That was more than enough after last week’s 1-1 draw at Bernabeú for a spot in the final match on June 10 in Istanbul. Internazionale, too strong yesterday for city rival AC Milan, may then try to keep City from its first Champions League final victory.

City became champions in England four times in the past five seasons, but have only been in the Champions League final once before. Two years ago, Chelsea were surprisingly too strong.

Guardiola winds up along the line, but Spanish coach could win Champions League again for first time since 2011

This season, Guardiola’s team still has sight of the “treble. Next weekend, a new Premier League title could be a reality and a week before the Champions League final, the FA Cup final against Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United awaits.

Three ball contacts over the center line

Anyone who watched City play soccer (without the injured Nathan Aké) in the first half on Thursday night will have no doubt that the team has a serious chance of winning that treble. Real Madrid was no match for the sublimely combining Englishmen. With many position changes and short passes, ‘The Royal’ was played out of existence.

City had already scored eight goal attempts and had as much as 79 percent ball possession when the enormous superiority resulted in the inevitable opening goal in the 23rd minute. After a perfect pass from Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva shot the ball into the short corner past Thibaut Courtois: 1-0.

The Belgian goalkeeper had earlier had to save twice from great header chances by Erling Haaland.

Bernardo Silva shoots in the 1-0, Real defender Alaba cannot block the ball

The most telling statistic of the one-sided opening phase: Real had only touched the ball three times over the center line until the 1-0. Only after half an hour of play did the team of veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti bite off a bit.

Vinícius Júnior was the first player with a black shirt to appear in the enemy penalty area, but City defender Kyle Walker intervened decisively. Soon after, Toni Kroos hit the crossbar with a peg from distance.

But Real’s revival was soon stifled. On the counterattack after Kroos’ shot, Ilkay Gündogan’s attempt was blocked, but the rebound was headed in by Silva: 2-0. The 28-year-old Portuguese thus became the big man of the first half.

First save

Shortly after halftime, City goalkeeper Ederson made his first save of the evening, off a nail-biting free kick by David Alaba. Real no longer dropped far back, but put high pressure and tried to force something. It became a more equal game, but Real never really came close to scoring the tying goal.

The home crowd goes wild after Bernardo Silva’s 2-0.

At the other end, City had plenty of room to finish it off, but it was difficult to do so. Haaland had a chance after a cunning heel from Gündogan, but he hit the bar via Courtois.

Fifteen minutes before time, Real did receive the final blow. A free kick by De Bruyne went via Manuel Akanji and Real defender Eder Militao into the goal: 3-0.

Haaland substituted

Remarkably, goal-scoring machine Haaland failed to score against Real Madrid in both Madrid and Manchester. In the 89th minute, the Norwegian was substituted for young Argentine Julián Álvarez, who showed how it should be done with a slide into the far corner: 4-0.

With the big win, City goes to Istanbul brimming with self-confidence, where Guardiola finally gets the opportunity to win the Champions League for the third time. He had to wait a long time for that. In 2009 and 2011, the acclaimed coach won the most important club prize with FC Barcelona.

Champions League as well as Premier League wins for City would be good news for Feyenoord. The Premier League champion would then end up in pot 1 in next season’s Champions League draw.

Kayleigh Williams