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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Madrid play out 1-1 draw with City in Champions League semi-finals

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Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior and Manchester City’s Erling Haaland smile after the final whistle at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

They all looked satisfied after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw and progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League next week in Manchester.

Vinicius and Kevin De Bruyne scored with long-range strikes in a game in which Madrid’s defense successfully shielded Champions League top scorer Haaland from the final blow.

“I think both teams think it was a good result,” said Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was coaching his 190th Champions League match. “Maybe we played a little better in a game we deserved to win, but this is a series that will be about winning until the very last minute.”

Madrid beat City in the semi-finals last year to win a record 14th Champions League title, but the English club have again eluded European success.

“It was a level game,” said City manager Pep Guardiola. “When we were better they scored and when they were better we equalised. Everything will be decided in Manchester.”

The first leg of another semi-final between Italian rivals Inter and AC Milan will take place on Wednesday.

“Both teams played well. It’s a good draw,” said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. “I have everything to play for next week.”

City controlled possession but failed to translate into any significant scoring opportunities. Haaland missed a few chances early on but didn’t pose much of a threat throughout the game at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

The Norwegian has scored 12 of City’s 26 goals in the Champions League this season, five short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2013-14 Madrid single-season record of 17 goals.

Vinicius troubled the City defense and opened the scoring with a shot into the top corner in the 36th minute for his seventh Champions League goal of the season. The Brazilian forward intercepted a pass from Eduardo Camavinga and fired a right-footed shot from outside the area with one touch.

City struggled to get close to Madrid’s goal, but De Bruyne found the net with a powerful one-time shot from outside the area in the 67th following a poor field pass from Camavinga.

Madrid complained about not winning a corner kick to score City’s goal.

Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said, “It’s a shame we missed that goal. I think we deserved more. They had more possession, but didn’t create many chances. Still 50- 50. And I will face the second game with confidence.” ,

Haaland was yet to join City when they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Madrid in the semi-finals last year. Vinicius, Rodrigo and Karim Benzema combined to score all Madrid’s goals at that time.

Madrid have advanced to their 11th semi-final in 13 seasons and are aiming for their 6th title in 10 years. City lost to Chelsea in their first Champions League final two seasons ago.

After winning the Copa del Rey last weekend, Madrid are virtually out of contention in the Spanish league and can focus solely on their semi-final against City. The English team is in the midst of a tight title race in the Premier League.

“Manchester will be like a final in front of our fans,” Guardiola said.

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