Manchester City produced a stunning late fightback. Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne secured a memorable 2-1 win at Real Madrid to take control of their Champions League last-16 tie.
The first half was cagey for Manchester City. The hosts capitalized on a defensive mix-up between Rodri and Nicolas Otamendi to take the lead. Impressive Vinicius Junior raced towards goal before neatly squaring for Isco who slotted home.
Sergio Ramos shot over as Real Madrid looked to double their advantage. Needless be, City equalized 12 minutes before time when Jesus nodded in from close range.
It was the least City deserved for what had been an impressive away performance by Pep’s players. Things got better seven minutes from time when substitute Raheem Sterling was brought down inside the box. De Bruyne stepped home to confidently convert from the spot.
For Real Madrid, the situation became worse. They were reduced to 10 men with five minutes remaining. Ramos brought down Jesus as he ran through on goal and the defender was shown a red card.
This marked the first time for City to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League. The club is also in the driving seat before the second leg at the Etihad on 17th March.
Real Madrid out-thought and out-fought
Real Madrid is the Champions League’s most successful club with 13 titles. The club has been stronger under Zidane.
The former France international guided Los Blancos to three consecutive titles in his first spell in charge of the club between 2016 and 2018.
However, their form heading into this match had been patchy with one win in their previous four games in all competitions.
Despite taking the lead against City, they were truly never in control of the game at any period. They first struggled to break down their opponents before falling apart when the visitors took the game to them.
This was the first time Guardiola and Zidane had gone head to head as managers and it was the former who came out on top.
Guardiola’s plan pays off
This was a hugely impressive result for Manchester City and which Guardiola deserved a large amount of Guardiola after he sprung a surprise with his team selection.
Guardiola had left Sterling, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Fernandinho on the bench. Instead, he utilized Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne as alternating false nines in what appeared to be a very cautious City formation.
Nonetheless, it was a tactic that successfully nullified Real Madrid that historically has been so strong in the knockout stages of the Champions League.