Manchester City are through to the UEFA Champions League final for the second time in three years after defeating Real Madrid 4-0 (5-1). The Etihad was buzzing as the Blues dismantled the reigning Champions of Europe. With the treble now clearly in sight, Pep Guardiola’s men march on. Sky Blue News has all the latest to bring you up to speed after a magical night in Manchester.
Manchester City finally topples Real Madrid in Champions League with 90 minutes of near-perfection - Henry Bushnell - Yahoo!Sports
City was already widely regarded as the world’s best team, a meticulously refined machine that hasn’t lost since Feb. 5. But in years past, in the Champions League, that “world’s best team” moniker meant nothing. Guardiola’s City had fallen in the quarters and collapsed in the semis and come up short in the 2021 final despite consistent excellence. They entered this week en route to a fifth Premier League title in six seasons, but a European cup was what had infinitely eluded them, so a European cup was what they desperately wanted.
And of course, standing in its way was the club who’d won it 14 times, twice as often as its most worthy peer, and the team who’d scored in the 90th, 91st and 95th minutes to stun City at this very same stage a year ago. Real Madrid had developed an addiction to dramatic Champions League revivals and to ruthless winning. It carried a craving for more of the same to Manchester.
But City, fully aware of the hoodoo, took its mastery of the sport to another level. It pinged the ball to and fro, and swarmed Real Madrid whenever possession was lost. Through 15 minutes, the hosts had produced several glorious chances; six of Madrid’s 10 outfield players, meanwhile, had not even had the opportunity to attempt a pass. As a team, the reigning champs had touched the ball only three times in City’s half. Their heat map looked as if it had been mistakenly pulled from pregame warm-ups.
Four-Star City Destroy Madrid To Book Euro Final Place - Manc Pete - Bitter and Blue
With the tie precariously balanced at 1-1 from the first leg, the blues knew that any slip-ups against the 14 times champions would likely result in another painful elimination at the last four stage, but this time, in front of their own fans.
After dispatching Everton at the weekend, City moved to within one win of being crowned Premier League champions for the third successive season, and the attention quickly turned to Wednesday evening’s crunch encounter with the Spanish giants.
Madrid had been making a lot of noise in the build-up towards the match, while the media kept themselves busy by trying to pair City’s top stars with other European clubs, as has become the norm whenever City have a big match to play.
But the focus of the blues, and manager Pep Guardiola, remained firmly on the task in hand, as was evident on the pitch. The boss named the same side that secured the Madrid draw and eyebrows were raised when Antonio Rudiger, who shackled Erling Haaland well in the first leg, was dropped to the bench.
And how Madrid could have done with the former Chelsea man on Wednesday as Erling Haaland twice got above the Madrid defence, only to be denied on each occasion by Thibaut Courtois in the visitor’s goal. The Belgian keeper performed heroics to keep the Spanish side in a match that City threatened to run away with.
Four-Star City Destroy Madrid To Book Euro Final Place https://t.co/22UfqqMGLH pic.twitter.com/4JOitQyGuq— Bitter and Blue (@BitterandBlue1) May 18, 2023
Match Report: Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid (Aggregate: 5-1) UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg - Shruti Sabdhav - City Xtra
After drawing against Real Madrid with one goal a piece in the first leg, Pep Guardiola demanded the highest standards from his players, and they delivered. City kicked off the game on a dominant note, creating quickfire chances within the first ten minutes of the game, but Thibaut Courtois stood his ground.
Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva ran riots on the left and right flanks to stretch the Real Madrid defense. Close to the 25-minute mark, Kevin De Bruyne passed a delicious through ball to Bernardo Silva inside the opponent’s box, setting up the Portuguese midfielder for City’s opening goal.
Silva, who often reserves himself from shooting, stunned the Madrid defense as he drove the ball into the right slot from a close range.
Ten minutes later, Toni Kroos rattled the goalpost with a powerful strike from a distance. However, the hosts were quick to respond as Jack Grealish found Ilkay Gundogan with a sublime pass, and the latter played a low through ball inside the box.
The ball slightly deflected off Eder Militao and reached Bernardo Silva, who positioned himself perfectly under it for a header. The angle of the shot betrayed Courtois, and before he knew it, Silva had doubled City’s lead.
CITY TO FACE INTER MILAN IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL - Neil Leigh - ManCity.com
City confirmed our place in this season’s showpiece event with a magnificent 4-0 win over Real Madrid in Wednesday night’s semi-final second leg at Etihad, sealing a 5-1 aggregate win.
Inter meanwhile secured their spot in the final by overcoming AC Milan 3-0 on aggregate in their semi-final clash which concluded on Tuesday.
This year’s Champions League final will take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, in Turkey on Saturday 10 June, with kick-off scheduled for 20.00 (UK).
It will be the second time City have figured in the final following our maiden appearance in 2021 when we were edged out 1-0 by Chelsea.
Inter meanwhile are three times winners of European football’s most prestigious tournament, their most recent successes coming in 2010 when the Italian side beat Bayern Munich 2-0.
City will be the designated home team for the Champions League final.
#UCL FINALISTS! pic.twitter.com/UzAjYB63xN— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 17, 2023
Man City players and fans have turned Etihad into what Pep Guardiola wants after Real Madrid win - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News
Forget Anfield and Old Trafford. Forget the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp. Ignore the Yellow Wall and the San Siro, the ultras of PSG and Bayern and the madness of Naples. Is there a more imposing stadium to play at than facing Manchester City at the Etihad these days? The stats would suggest not.
This is 26 Champions League games unbeaten here for Pep Guardiola’s side, 24 of them won. The two draws? Dead rubbers against Sporting and Shakhtar. If there’s something on it for City in Europe and they’ve got home comforts, then they’re going to win.
In that time City have beaten Atalanta when they were the darlings of Europe, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain twice and now Real Madrid on three occasions. Look at this season’s results in the knockout stage for the scale of the domination. RB Leipzig were beaten 7-0, Bayern 3-0 and now Real 4-0.
No other major European stadium comes close for this level of security for a home team. City have grown into their surroundings here. As Jack Grealish said after the draw in Madrid: “At the Etihad, we feel unstoppable.”
The supporters are playing their part as well. Guardiola has started to see them deliver on the big occasions especially and the atmosphere on Wednesday was magnificent.
‘You might as well stop running’ - Kyle Walker labelled a ‘beast’ by Thierry Henry after Man City full-back drops another masterclass against Vinicius Junior - Soham Mukherjee - Goal
WHAT HAPPENED? The Manchester City full-back was undoubtedly the better player against Vinicius at the Etihad in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday where the Premier League outfit thrashed Real Madrid 4-0. On one occasion, the England international fell behind the winger but still came away with the ball comfortably which impressed Henry the most.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Walker is a beast. Whenever you have to run with him, you might as well stop running. At one point, he was way behind Vinicius, he just caught him, took the ball and looked at him and said ‘bye’. When it comes to that, he is too good. He put him in his pocket in the quarter-final at the World Cup. He put a lot of players that are actually outstanding in his pocket. It is not easy to beat him. You have to give him a lot of credit,” he told CBS Sports.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Walker himself was elated with his performance against Vinicius and questioned the lack of plan B of Real Madrid after he nullified the threat from the Brazilian.
Kyle Walker's putting on a show pic.twitter.com/MA9zX8DdEe— GOAL (@goal) May 17, 2023
And finally... A couple of personal milestones as well on the evening.
Pep Guardiola, Jack Grealish break Champions League records as Manchester City reach final - Oliver Thomas - Sports Mole
City’s four-goal victory over Real Madrid is Guardiola’s 100th in the Champions League, becoming just the third manager in the competition’s history to reach a century of wins after Carlo Ancelotti (107) and Sir Alex Ferguson (102).
However, Guardiola has reached 100 Champions League wins in the quickest time, doing so in just 160 games compared with Ancelotti and Ferguson who required 180 and 184 matches respectively to reach triple figures.
Guardiola has come out on top in 47 of his 74 Champions League games in charge of City, boasting a win rate of 64%, and his side have scored 174 and conceded just 75 in the process.
The Catalan boss previously won 30 matches with Barcelona between 2008 and 2012 before guiding Bayern Munich to 23 victories between 2013 and 2016.
Meanwhile, Grealish created three chances in the second leg and increased his overall tally to 35 in this season’s Champions League, the most by any English player in a single campaign in the competition’s history.
Grealish surpasses the previous record held by former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard who created 34 chances in 2007-08 and 32 chances in 2006-07.
Pep Guardiola and Jack Grealish both break a Champions League record after helping Manchester City secure a thumping 4-0 second-leg victory over holders Real Madrid in the semi-finals.— Sports Mole (@SportsMole) May 17, 2023
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There you have it! Stay with Bitter and Blue as City look to lift the Premier League trophy with a win over Chelsea at the Etihad. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.