Real Madrid produced an astonishing late comeback against Manchester City to set up a Champions League final against Liverpool, as Karim Benzema’s extra-time penalty winner gave them an incredible 6-5 aggregate win over City.
The 13-time winners were trailing 5-3 on aggregate heading into the 90th minute at the Bernabeu after Riyad Mahrez had given City the lead (73).
But two goals in two minutes from substitute Rodrygo dramatically made it 2-1 (5-5 on aggregate) to Real in the 91st minute to send the tie to extra-time.
Real’s incredible fightback was then complete in the fifth minute of extra-time as Benzema scored a penalty after being brought down by Ruben Dias.
- Real Madrid made two changes from the first leg defeat as Casemiro returned in midfield with Rodrygo dropping out, while Nacho replaced David Alaba, who was only fit enough for the bench.
- Man City also made two changes from the home win over Real as Kyle Walker returned from injury to replace John Stones while Joao Cancelo came back from suspension to take Oleksandr Zinchenko’s place.
City came close to forcing a penalty shootout but Fernandinho put it wide at the back post at the end of the first half of extra-time as the Premier League leaders missed out on making it back-to-back Champions League finals.
Real, who also came from behind in the previous two rounds against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, reached their first Champions League final since 2018 when they beat Liverpool 3-1.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side will now be looking for revenge against the Spanish champions in Paris on May 28 as Real boss Carlo Ancelotti looks to become the first manager to win the competition four times.
Super sub Rodrygo sparks stunning comeback
City took a slender one-goal advantage to Spain after last Tuesday’s thrilling 4-3 first leg win at the Etihad Stadium, but for large periods the second leg was a tense and nervy affair.
In the 20th minute, Bernardo Silva had the first opportunity of the game but a solid stop from Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept out the Portuguese’s half-volley after he had latched onto a clever Kevin De Bruyne ball.
Five minutes before half-time, Courtois needed to be alert again as he denied Phil Foden’s 25-yard bouncing volley to keep it scoreless.
But within seconds of the restart, Real should have been level only for Vinicius to waste a glorious chance straight from kick-off after the Brazilian, who was unmarked at the back post, put wide from Dani Carvajal’s cross following a poor offside trap by City.
But the tension was then lifted for Pep Guardiola’s side as Silva found Mahrez after a driving run and the Algerian then powered a curling shot past Real goalkeeper Courtois.
Substitute Jack Grealish then twice came close in the space of a minute to sealing the semi-final win but his first effort was cleared off the line by Ferland Mendy with his second shot superbly saved by Courtois’ outstretched left boot.
But this Real side do not know when they are beaten and in the 90th minute, Rodrygo pulled one back as he flicked in Benzema’s pullback.
City were left stunned a minute later as the Brazilian then scored his second with a fantastic header from Carvajal’s cross to level the tie and send it to extra time.
A shellshocked City then gave a penalty away five minutes after the restart as Dias brought Benzema down and the Frenchman stepped up to score from the spot for his 15th goal in the Champions League this season.
City almost responded in added time of the first period of extra rime as Courtois saved Foden’s header but Fernandinho missed the rebound as City’s search for a first Champions League title goes on, while Real remain on course to win a 14th European Cup.
Ancelotti: Real’s history keeps us going
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, speaking to BT Sport: “I cannot say we are used to living this kind of life, but what happened tonight it happened against Chelsea and also against PSG.
“If you have to say why, it is the history of this club that helps us to keep going when it seems that we are gone.
“The game was close to finished and we managed to find the last energy we had. We played a good game against a strong rival. When we are able to equalise we had a psychological advantage in extra time.
“I have no time to think about this [losing the game]. It was difficult as City had control of the game but the last opportunity we were able to go to extra time.
“I am happy to be there in the final, in Paris against another great rival. We are used to it. It will be a fantastic game for football.”
Pep: Football is unpredictable
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told BT Sport: “We were close. We were close. But in the end, we could not reach it.
“It is simple. In the first half, we did not have game, we were not good enough. But we did not suffer much. After we scored the goal we were better. We found our tempo and our game and the players were comfortable.
“It is not like in the last 10 minutes they attack and attack and you suffer. It didn’t happen. They put a lot of players in the box, with [Eder] Militao, Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema and they put in crosses and scored two goals.
“We didn’t play our best, but it is normal, a semi-final, the players feel the pressure and wanting to do it. Football is unpredictable, it is a game like this. We have to accept it.
“Now we need to process that and come back, with our people at home and the last four games we have.”
Analysis: How do Man City recover from this?
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate
The margins were fine, desperately fine. Jack Grealish had two chances. He did well for both. If the ball had ricocheted back off Phil Foden at a slightly different angle for the first chance. If Thibaut Courtois had been wearing smaller studs for the second. If…
What followed was impossible to explain, a freak occurrence but for the fact that Real Madrid keep doing it. This was their night but what is left of Manchester City’s season? That is a thought that will be far away in the Spanish capital but will need to return quickly.
Pep Guardiola will be bereft. Another chance missed when he appeared to have a team capable of winning this Champions League, ending his own 11-year wait for the biggest prize in European club football. Unlike some of the previous near misses, he played it straight.
There were no shock omissions, his set up neither too aggressive as in 2018 nor too cautious as in 2019. He had tweaked the system and been eliminated by Lyon in 2020. He had surprised some by asking Ilkay Gundogan to do Rodri’s job in the following year’s final.
Here, his substitutions, not Carlo Ancelotti’s, almost made the difference. Grealish was oh so close to being the hero off the bench. If that had happened, City might have been narrow favourites to beat Liverpool in Paris, just as they are to win the Premier League. If…
Instead, Guardiola must lift his players, refocus them in the knowledge that the trophy that has again eluded them – the one they craved – is gone for another year. All they can do now is maintain their standards, hoping a domestic title will sate them. Easier said than done.
Manchester City return to Premier League action on Sunday as they host Newcastle, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm. City play a day after their title rivals Liverpool, who could be above them come kick-off if they avoid defeat at home to Tottenham on Saturday night.
Sunday – Newcastle (h) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 11 – Wolves (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 15 – West Ham (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Aston Villa (h) Premier League