Madrid rallies past Man City to reach Champions League final

Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates his side's second goal during the Champions League semi final, second leg, soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The chants of “Si se puede!” (Yes we can!) faded at the Santiago Bernabéu as the minutes passed and Real Madrid appeared to be beaten.

As the clock ticked down to the end of regulation, many in the seats — and on the pitch — were on the verge of giving up as Manchester City clung to their 1-0 advantage.

The 13-time European winners appeared to be missing out on a wonderful night at the Bernabéu this time.

Madrid, on the other hand, took its Champions League comebacks to a new level on Wednesday, rebounding late with two goals in two minutes from substitute Rodrygo to force extra time and beat Manchester City 3-1 to advance to the final, where they will face Liverpool.

Madrid advanced 6-5 on aggregate after a 4-3 first-leg semifinal loss in which it narrowly avoided losing by a larger margin. Karim Benzema, the hero of Madrid’s previous comebacks this season, converted a penalty kick in extra time for the decisive goal that allowed Madrid to advance 6-5 on aggregate after a 4-3 first-leg semifinal loss in which it narrowly avoided losing by a larger margin.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remarked, “I didn’t think we could accomplish it again since we were battling.” “We had already eliminated some of the best clubs in the world who had spent a lot of money to attempt to win a Champions League title, but today was even more stunning because it happened in the last minutes.”

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At the Bernabéu, Madrid had already pulled off dramatic comebacks against PSG in the round of 16 and Chelsea in the quarterfinals.

“I can’t say we’re used to living like this,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “But what occurred tonight happened against Chelsea and also against Paris.” “If you had to ask why, it is because of the club’s history that we are able to keep going when it appears that we are on our way out.”

Madrid booked a place in the May 28 final in Paris by repeating the feat against City. Madrid will face Liverpool, who advanced after overcoming Villarreal on Tuesday. When Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2018 final, it set a new record by winning a record-extending 13th title.

After Madrid’s win, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah declared on Twitter, “We have a score to settle.”

City’s latest pursuit for its first Champions League triumph came to an end with this defeat. Last year, Pep Guardiola’s team lost in the final to Chelsea.

“We were close, but we couldn’t make it to the final,” Guardiola remarked.

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Near the end of regular, Madrid appeared to be down and out until Rodrygo scored two goals two minutes apart. Riyad Mahrez had put City ahead in the 73rd minute, but the Brazilian forward equalized in the 90th and scored the game-winner with a header in stoppage time.

Ferland Mendy had prevented Madrid from surrendering a second goal that could have confirmed City’s qualifying just minutes before Rodrygo’s first goal by clearing the ball in front of the goal line while sliding backward to prevent an attempt by Jack Grealish from going in.

Thibaut Courtois, a Madrid goalkeeper, saved a Grealish shot with the bottom of his cleat moments later.

Madrid maintained their lead into extra time, with Benzema converting a 95th-minute penalty kick after being fouled inside the box to give the hosts a 3-1 lead.

Benzema, the competition’s top scorer, scored his 15th Champions League goal this season. It was his 10th goal in the knockout stage, tying Cristiano Ronaldo’s single-season record.

Benzema had hat tricks in Madrid’s comeback victories over PSG and Chelsea. After losing the first leg in Paris and conceding early in the second leg at the Bernabéu, Madrid rallied back to beat PSG. Madrid won the first leg 3-1, but fell behind 3-0 in the second leg before rallying in extra time, with Benzema scoring the game-winning goal.

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Following a pass from Bernardo Silva, who enticed the Madrid defenders before giving the ball to his teammate, Mahrez hit the top corner with a solid left-footed one-timer from inside the box.

In the second leg of City’s semifinal against PSG last season, Mahrez scored both of City’s goals. The Algerian became the first City player in Champions League history to score seven goals in a single season.

Madrid had scored 22 goals in its previous eight games across all competitions, but it had trouble breaking through the City defense.

In stoppage time, Benzema set up Rodrygo for his first goal from inside the area, and Marco Asensio redirected Dani Carvajal’s cross for the Brazilian’s magnificent header.

When Real Madrid claimed the Spanish league title in advance at the Bernabéu on Saturday, Rodrygo scored twice, and the celebrations lasted late into the evening, with players and coach Carlo Ancelotti appealing for support against Man City.

The team’s bus arrived before the match on Wednesday, and fans thronged the streets around the Bernabéu to offer the players a magnificent greeting.

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