Football News

Real Madrid 3-3 Man City: Champions League quarter-final tie hanging in the balance after six-goal Bernabeu thriller

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:30, 9 April 2024

Real Madrid and Manchester City cancelled each other in an entertaining Champions League quarter-final opening leg contest in the Spanish capital this evening.

The record 14-time European champions met the incumbent Kings of Europe, with each side putting three past the other and the lead changing hands on three occasions.

Incidentally, this was the first knockout stage game in the Champions League to end in a draw despite both teams leading since May 2018, in a 2-2 draw between Real Madrid and Bayern München (semi-final second leg).

It was also the fourth time in the Champions League that both teams have scored 3+ goals in the first leg of a two-legged knockout stage tie, with the previous instance also being between these two sides (Man City 4-3 Real Madrid in the 2021-22 semi-finals).

Pep Guardiola subsequently is winless in his last three matches at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real (two draws and one loss); his longest run of games there as the visiting coach without a victory (six wins and two draws in his first nine).

Bernardo Silva’s clever free-kick put Guardiola’s men in front. His effort after 108 seconds was the second-earliest goal scored by a visiting side against Real at the Bernabéu in the Champions League, after only Mario Mandzukic for Juventus in April 2018 (77 seconds). A Rúben Dias own goal, and Rodrygo gave Real control.

Rodrygo scored three goals against City in the Champions League knockout stages, all of which came at the Bernabeu. Only former teammate Karim Benzema (four) has scored more against the Citizens in the competition’s knockout rounds.

This was only the second knockout stage match in the Champions League to see three goals scored in the opening 14 minutes of play, after Man City vs. Tottenham in April 2019 (2-2 after 11 minutes).

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Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol restored City’s lead — the former has scored six goals from outside the box for City this season, the most of any player for a Premier League club across all competitions — but Federico Valverde ensured no one held the advantage going into the return leg in eight days.

“I think that goal, to equalise, lifts us quite a bit for the second leg,” Valverde told Movistar after the game. “But even a draw feels like last year, it feels like a defeat. I have to thank our crowd, who were with us from first to last – we, and they, are all pulling together for the same objective.

“We conceded early and I think what was vital was knowing how to cope, knowing how to fight back and score two in a matter of a couple of minutes. Scoring like we did lifted us but I think we dropped our intensity, we let them off the hook, didn’t press well enough. And City have really good players; they work really hard. We need to be fuelled by a sense of ‘revenge’ and go to Manchester full of hunger to qualify for the semi-final.  Overall this was a great football match.”

City will be keen to get their number nine involved next time, as Erling Haaland hasn’t scored in any of his three career appearances against Real Madrid (eight shots and six shots on target, 0 goals). Indeed, they’re now the opponent he’s played against most often in European competition without finding the net.