Champions League

Man City 4-3 Real Madrid: Player ratings as City edge UCL semi-final classic

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
What a game
What a game / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages
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Manchester City edged a seven-goal thriller 4-3 against Real Madrid in a stone-cold classic on Tuesday night, in what was the first leg of the pair's Champions League semi-final tie.

City were irresistible going forward throughout and raced into a 2-0 lead. However, despite their best efforts Real kept on pegging them back and Los Blancos will welcome the Premier League champions to the Santiago Bernabeu next week just one goal down on aggregate.

Scarcely a minute after the boos for the UEFA anthem had subsided, City had the ball in the back of the net. Mahrez was the architect, dancing through a spate of white shirts before floating a cross for De Bruyne to crash home with his head.

It did not take long for City to make 2-0. This time, De Bruyne turned creator, whipping a ball into the box and after a slice of good fortune, Gabriel Jesus was presented with a gilt-edged chance that he converted to send his side into dreamland.

Real then survived another scare when Phil Foden's cut-back was not turned in, before they finally progressed into the City box with Vinicius Junior's deflected effort flying well wide.

Just before the half-hour mark the hosts breached Los Blancos' backline once again, but instead of squaring to an unmarked Phil Foden, Mahrez blasted into the side-netting. Seconds later, Foden was slipped through and struck a low shot narrowly wide.

The excitement kept on coming in the first half, with David Alaba drawing gasps from the Etihad crowd when he flicked a header just past the post. And then came the inevitable: a Benzema goal in the Champions League.

Ferland Mendy's cross left Real's talisman with a lot to do – not that that fazed the Frenchman. He produced an exquisite finish to stun the home fans into silence, diverting the ball into the bottom corner.

The second half almost began in the same dramatic fashion as the first, with Mahrez smashing the post and Foden seeing his goal-bound shot on the rebound blocked on the line within a few minutes of the restart.

It did not take long for City to make amends for this spurned chance, though. Soon after, Foden helped himself to a rare headed goal, ghosting in at the back post to convert Fernandinho's cross.

However, as quick as a flash Real cut the deficit back down to two. Vinicius Junior bamboozled Fernandinho with a clever feint and left his veteran compatriot in the dust, motoring into the area and rolling the ball past Ederson.

Things mercifully quietened down for a short while before Aymeric Laporte almost became an unlikely hero, meeting Oleksandr Zinchenko's cross well to force a save out of Thibaut Courtois.

16 minutes from time, Bernardo Silva restored City's two-goal advantage, capitalising on a well-played advantage from referee Istvan Kovacs to slam home a thunderous left-footed drive which left Courtois rooted to the spot.

Think the drama was over? Think again.

Real were then awarded a penalty after Laporte handled in the box. Up stepped Benzema, who showed balls of steel to Panenka past Ederson in his own backyard, making it 4-3 in the process.

Here are your player ratings from an astounding night in Manchester...


Man City player ratings - Champions League

1. Man City (4-3-3)

Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden
City started so strongly / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Ederson (GK) - 4/10 - Should have done better for Vinicius Junior's strike and then got Panenka'd. Oops.

John Stones (RB) - 5/10 - One sloppy moment in the first half might have been punished. Never looked comfortable and was taken off – due to an injury – in the first half.

Ruben Dias (CB) - 5/10 - The best centre-back on the pitch, yet still conceded three. It was a funny game.

Aymeric Laporte (CB) - 5/10 - Handball was partly unfortunate and partly clumsy. In the end, this error rather overshadowed his performance.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) - 6/10 - Pretty dependable defensively and sometimes ventured into the final third to good effect.

Kevin De Bruyne (CM) - 9/10 - Timed his run perfectly to make it 1-0 and then set up the second. Continued to carve out chances throughout in a commanding display.

Rodri (CM) - 7/10 - Helped City dominated the ball during their lengthy spells in possession.

Bernardo Silva (CM) - 7/10 - Some excellent touches to bypass the limp Real midfield. Spritely and creative. Scored a great goal.

Riyad Mahrez (RW) - 8/10 - Absolutely wonderful run and assist to help De Bruyne open the scoring. This teed up one of his best displays in Europe. His close control was absolutely incredible.

Gabriel Jesus (ST) - 7/10 - Pretty lucky for his goal but he still had to stick it in the onion bag. Played his role in City's counter attacks.

Phil Foden (LW) - 8/10 - Unplayable for the most part. Real could not get near him and he was eventually rewarded with a goal.

SUB: Fernandinho (RB) - 5/10 - Assisted City's third but was culpable for Real's second. A net contribution of zero then.

Raheem Sterling (LW) - N/A


Real Madrid player ratings - Champions League

2. Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Karim Benzema
Real were suspect defensively / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Thibaut Courtois (GK) - 3/10 - Not sure he was culpable for any of the first three goals but had a terrible brain fart for the fourth. Very poor.

Dani Carvajal (RB) - 4/10 - Foden gave him a nightmarish evening. He just isn't a good enough defender anymore. Decent goal-line block, though.

Eder Militao (CB) - 2/10 - Shaky and that is being kind. A real bundle of nervous energy. Not really what you want from your centre-back in a game of this magnitude.

David Alaba (CB) - 4/10 - Terrible judgement for the second goal. Looked like a man who had been rushed back from injury and was taken off at half time.

Ferland Mendy (LB) - 4/10 - Gave Mahrez a hilarious amount of room for the opener. Did not look fully fit.

Federico Valverde (CM) - 4/10 - Moved into midfield after impressing on the wing recently. It didn't work. Could not keep hold of the ball and positioning was poor. Eventually moved out wide but it was too late.

Toni Kroos (CM) - 3/10 - Seriously struggled out of possession. Looked incredibly old.

Luka Modric (CM) - 5/10 - Bravely won the ball in midfield to help created Benzema's goal. Like Kroos, he looked his age when City got their passing triangles going.

Rodrygo (RW) - 4/10 - Not the most influential going forward. Get the feeling he needed to do more out of possession too.

Karim Benzema (ST) - 9/10 - Another incredible finish in the Champions League to stop the game slipping away from his side. And that spot kick, wow.

Vinicius Junior (LW) - 8/10 - Looked dangerous, particularly when Fernandinho came on and it was little surprise when he motored past him and scored.

SUB: Nacho Fernandez (CB) - 5/10 - Meh.

SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (CM) - 6/10

SUB: Marco Asensio (LW) - N/A


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