In a tense Champions League semifinal match on Tuesday, Manchester City defeated Real Madrid 4-3.
Karim Benzema’s brace, which included a spectacular Panenka penalty, was not enough to keep up with City’s free-scoring attack.
City got off to a flying start thanks to a header from Kevin De Bruyne after just two minutes, and Gabriel Jesus added to their lead shortly after.
Later in the first half, Benzema snatched a goal back with a well-placed volley, but City’s Phil Foden restored their two-goal advantage with a header in the first minutes of the second half.
It was the first time in Champions League history that Real Madrid had conceded two goals in such a short period of time, and another appeared to be on the way.
City were on fire, running Spanish league leaders Real Madrid ragged, but Riyad Mahrez and Foden both failed to convert promising chances.
It was a period of the game that City may look back on as a missed opportunity, and Real, as they so often do, found a way to get themselves back into a game that threatened to run away from them.
After 33 minutes, the goal came from a familiar source: the Champions League’s escape artist Benzema, who guided a Mendy cross into the far, bottom corner with the most delicate of steers.
City’s two-goal lead would last only three minutes, as Vinicius snatched the ball from Fernandinho just inside his own half, raced down the left flank, and tucked a low shot past Ederson.
It was one of the best UCL games the Etihad – or any other stadium – had ever seen, and it wasn’t even over yet.
When Zinchenko cleverly cut inside a challenge on the edge of the box and was brought down on 74 minutes, City went two goals up for the third time in the match.
While a couple of Real Madrid defenders appeared to come to a halt, Bernardo picked up the loose ball and thumped it into the top left corner to make it 4-2.
In those early exchanges, Madrid had no idea what had hit them. The ferocity with which City – and Liverpool – can begin a match is arguably unparalleled in European football. They were too much for Madrid to handle. It’s difficult to think of anyone who could in this mood.
So Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead after 93 seconds, and what a goal it was. Carlo Ancelotti would have been furious at Madrid’s lax defence, but that should not detract from the quality of the move. Mahrez came in from the right, darting between two dozing Real Madrid defenders and skirting Luka Modric. Toni Kroos was also slow to close, giving him the opportunity to whip in a beautiful cross.
Real Madrid came to a halt for one split second in a game that was almost perpetually, furiously in motion. And in that brief moment, Bernardo Silva provided Manchester City with the slender advantage they deserved, which may yet propel them to a second Champions League final.