Karim Benzema scored an extra-time penalty as Real Madrid made another startling return to the Champions League to knock out Manchester City 3-1 on Wednesday. and book a final encounter with Liverpool.
The city seemed certain to go through when Riyadh Mahrez put them 1-0 and 5-3 ahead of the total, but Rodrygo, instead, scored an incredible late double, his goals in the 90th and 91st minutes sending the tie to extra time.
With City still in a frenzy, Real Madrid made the decisive hit that Benzema won and then converted a spot-kick to grab a 6-5 earned in total, with another outstanding fight in the Santiago Bernabeu added to the club’s long list of magical European nights.
This season, Madrid had already carried out the most unlikely rescues to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Chelsea in the quarter-finals but, given the stakes and their close defeat, this one against Manchester City was surely the most spectacular.
Similar to PSG and Chelsea before them, City is going to wonder how they emerged as losers from a match they controlled in large part and there will be a new review also on coach Pep Guardiola, who, for all his success, spends another year not leading the city to the European glory they so much desire.
“Another magic night from the kings of Europe,” read a banner draped above the booth at one end before launch, but most of the time normal, this match fell short of the 7-goal thriller at Etihad Stadium last week.
Real Madrid was the toughest at the start, with Benzema giving a couple of difficult possibilities that only he, in his present form, could have planned to convert. Instead, he headed out and fired up.
Meanwhile, Luka Modric and Rodri took on a Casemiro challenge, then City moved on, pushing Madrid into mistakes as Kevin De Bruyne hit Thibaut Courtois from afar before the goalkeeper had to make an intelligent rescue reaction from Bernardo Silva.
Real Madrid survived and got better before the break, Modric causing a roar of satisfaction when he surpassed De Bruyne to cut a counter.
Probably their best chance came within seconds of restarting as Dani Carvajal found space on the right, but Vinicius Junior shot away to the back post.
The city was on the back foot as space opened up for Modric in the box, but a poor touch made him hard to finish. A botched pass by Kyle Walker released Casemiro, but Vinicius’ weaving didn’t make it.
An injury to Walker slowed down Madrid’s momentum and when the game got back on track, City hit, Ilkay Gundogan went through Madrid’s midfielder and found Silva, who danced until the edge of the box.
Silva fashioned to shoot but instead stuck the ball straight to Mahrez, who smashed it hard, early, and past Courtois.
Modric left and with the Croats, he seemed to go in the direction of Madrid.
Jack Grealish, as a substitute, could have done two for City, but Ferland Mendy somehow left the line, before another Grealish shot flashed past the post.
It didn’t matter because Madrid looked dead and buried, but somehow they found a way to return.
He was in the 90th minute when Benzema shot a ball brilliantly through for Rodrygo to pluck in the near post and encouragement for the goal was only a little louder than for the stadium announcer then say there would be an additional six minutes.
Madrid only needed it as City, which for so long has been so compact and composed, was suddenly spread out, and all it took for Carvajal to throw a cross in the box, where little Rodrygo went.
When the play restarted, Madrid emerged the strongest, and four minutes they got a penalty, Benzema falls over the tired leg of Ruben Dias before ignoring City’s distraction attempts by throwing the spot-kick around.
The city grew as Fernandinho came just short in the rear post when Courtois parried away. A late flick of Dias in the box flowed harmlessly into Courtois’s hands, with City’s last attempt coming to naught.