Manchester City defeated Real Madrid 4-0 to get to the Champions League final on a night that exceeded all expectations.
The Pep Guardiola team ran the show and established their dominance early on.
The first few minutes of the match were played at a frantic tempo as Manchester City tried to establish themselves and settle into a rhythm. Meanwhile, the visitors tried to press hard within their own half to deny the attacking players of the Citizens any time on the ball.
However, with the fans encouraging them to try and shoot, Los Blancos who were dressed entirely in black tonight allowed Rodri and John Stones time with the ball.
Stones took the bait and launched a few shots that were harmlessly wide, while Rodri came closer but dragged his shot wide after swerving into the box.
However, Madrid’s decision to defend was always going to be risky, and within the first 15 minutes, Haaland was given a significant opportunity when Jack Grealish found him with a cross.
Carlo Ancelotti exhaled a sigh of relief as the Norwegian’s header was miraculously stopped and cleared off the line.
The Spanish team didn’t put together a significant run of passes until almost halfway through the first session, and Luka Modric’s backheeling of the ball for a throw in deep in his own half summed up their frustrations in the early going.
Courtois once more stopped Haaland from scoring in the 20th minute, keeping the score tied. This time, it was even more amazing as the Belgian appeared to change direction midair before getting a solid hand on Haaland’s header and tipped it to safety.
But a few minutes later, the breakthrough occurred, and it felt like it was bound to happen given the pressure City was applying to the visiting team.
After the defense was breached by a delicately timed Kevin De Bruyne pass, Bernardo Silva was able to beat Courtois to the ball at his near side and score.
After falling behind, Madrid did make a slight comeback, possibly motivated by Karim Benzema’s motivational speech in the huddle prior to the restart, and nearly tied the game unexpectedly around 10 minutes later.
Toni Kroos chose to take a shot from at least 25 yards out, and if Ederson hadn’t intervened with his fingertip to deflect it against the crossbar, it would have likely found the back of the net.
Then, in the 38th minute, Bernardo scored his second goal, potentially dealing the hopes and dreams of Madridistas a fatal blow.
Ilkay Gundogan received a square cross from Grealish in the box, and the effort nicely bounced into the path of the Portuguese striker, who calmly headed the ball into the top right corner.
A similar pattern, albeit one that was a little more open, was originally present in the second half. Five minutes after the break, Ederson was once more called upon to stop a dipping long-range shot.
The Brazilian made a full length effort to deflect David Alaba’s free kick, keeping the overall score at 2-0.
Midway through the second half, Ancelotti changed his lineup, substituting Rudiger for Modric, moving Alaba to left back, and inserting Camavinga into the middle of the field.
Los Blancos seemed to gain momentum as a result, but City remained a threat thanks to De Bruyne and Haaland’s desire to make rapid breaks.
If Madrid hadn’t already passed away and been buried by this time, they could only thank Courtois.
In the 73rd minute, the Belgian made another outstanding save to keep Los Blancos’ hopes alive by stopping Haaland’s close-range attempt.
But when the third one came a few minutes later, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Manuel Akanji’s header from a De Bruyne freekick was cruelly assisted into the goal by Eder Militao.
A large portion of the game’s closing minutes was formality as City’s supporters celebrated their team’s second Champions League final appearance and hoped that this could finally be their year.
The Citizens had every cause to dream after a dramatic victory over the defending champions thanks to a late goal from Julian Alvarez.
In June, Manchester City will travel to Istanbul to take on Inter, which will be competing in their sixth championship game and seeking a fourth victory.
Even if the Italians’ victory against city rivals Milan was stunning, this might be City’s best opportunity to date to win the one significant prize that has eluded this endeavor.