Real Madrid have a mountain to climb against Manchester City in their Champions League Round of 16 second-leg, needing a compelling win to progress into the quarter-finals. They were unable to do so, with defensive errors handing City another 2-1 victory to win the tie 4-2 on aggregate to move onto the final 8.
Man City were in no mood to give them any breathing room and got the lead in the 9th minute when Gabriel Jesus stole the ball cheaply off Raphael Varane before allowing an easy goal for Raheem Sterling to solidify their lead in the tie to 3-1 on aggregate.
Los Blancos awoke from their slumber quickly and got the equalizer in the 28th thanks to Karim Benzema’s brilliant header to give them a lifeline in the tie. Just as it looked like Madrid’s comeback was on, another shocking mistake from Varane allowed the sharp Jesus to cleverly slot past Courtois in the 68th to regain City’s lead, taking the aggregate to 4-2.
That ended being the final nail in the coffin of Madrid’s CL campaign, as the La Liga champions had no answer and limped their way to a defeat. Zinedine Zidane’s perfect record of not losing a single double-legged CL knockout game is broken by Pep Guardiola’s side, who are now definitive favourites to win the Champions League with the remaining games all set to be single-legged affairs.
Real Madrid player ratings vs Manchester City
Zinedine Zidane (5.0) –
Zidane took a risk playing an unfit Hazard ahead of the menacing Vinicius and it ended up blowing on his face. To be honest, it’s not Zizou’s fault that Varane’s poor errors cost Madrid a comeback but he couldn’t motivate his side to expose City’s defensive vulnerabilities too much.
His side were too scrappy and Zidane’s delayed substitutions didn’t help either. The Frenchman’s ‘perfect’ CL record is now broken, but he’ll probably take this as a lesson in his managerial career and aim for better next season.
Thibaut Courtois (6.0) –
The best goalkeeper of La Liga last season is really struggling with his distribution, often making misplaced passes to hand City easy possession in the first half. Solid saves on multiple occasions to deny Sterling early on in the second half. Another solid save to deny Jesus in the 66th. Not at all helped by Varane’s brainfarts on the day, as Courtois continued to prove himself a compelling shot-stopper with some nice saves to keep his side in the game till the end.
Dani Carvajal (5.5) –
The right-back’s playing a more attacking role tonight, supporting Rodrygo on the right. But after an energetic start, he had to settle for a more defensive role to keep Cancelo and Sterling at bay. Made a few brilliant challenges, but bits of sloppiness caused frustration among teammates. Made little impact going forward, something that really hurt his side.
Raphael Varane (3.0) –
Varane was supposed to be the leader in defence in Ramos’ absence but had a terrible start, giving away the ball too cheaply to Jesus leading to Sterling’s opener. Then makes an even worse schoolboy error in the 68th with a botched backpass to Courtois allowing Jesus to score by pouncing on his mistake. Looked nervous and clueless without his captain Ramos & that wasn’t expected from a World Cup winner. Had a nightmare at the worst possible day.
Eder Militao (6.0) –
The Brazilian is filling in for the suspended Sergio Ramos tonight. Done a pretty solid job in a game where Varane looked all over the place, making clutch challenges and being really confident with his defensive work. While he wasn’t a leader like Ramos, Militao maintained no-nonsense style and gave a good audition to start more often next season with a proactive performance.
Ferland Mendy (5.0) –
Mendy is having all sort of problems against Sterling’s movement, being caught lopsided on a few occasions. Improved defensively as the game went on, making some solid tackles and clearances but just wasn’t able to implement that attacking flare Marcelo brings to the table. Couldn’t support Hazard or threaten City’s defence, being too inclined on working on the defensive side of things.
Casemiro (4.5) –
Casemiro has the important job of marking the menacing Kevin de Bruyne today. Made a brilliant goal-saving tackle to deny Sterling his second in the 19th-minute. But the Brazilian wasn’t the intelligent midfield general he’s reputed as.
Unable to help his side dominate the game, being outwitted by De Bruyne on a number of occasions and caught napping in City’s fast-breaks. Bit sloppy today and not helped by his senior figures struggling either.
Toni Kroos (4.5) –
The German might be nailing his simple passes but hasn’t been able to impose himself into the game to help his side dominate proceedings. Played a brilliant through-ball to send Asensio through in the 64th. Apart from that, the German was nearly non-existent in midfield. Couldn’t contribute much defensively and unable to bring the creative spark Madrid so desperately needed.
Luke Modric (4.5) –
The Croatian has experience playing against the Citizens and is looking to move forward to get into more goal-scoring areas today. But he just wasn’t the inspired figure in the final third, being unable to create anything and showing no signs of a former Ballon d’Or winner. Huffed and puffed towards the end before being subbed.
Rodrygo (6.5) –
A surprise start in a big game for the Brazilian teenager. Had a slow start but sparked up in the 27th minute, going past his defender cleverly before making a beautiful assist for Benzema’s equalizer. Didn’t really see too much of the ball, but did his job getting the goal and tormenting Cancelo with his clever movement.
Eden Hazard (5.0) –
Hazard passes a late fitness test to play against a side he loves facing. Looks dangerous in the final third and took a stinging shot that burst into Ederson’s hands in the 22nd. Apart from a few moments of slight promise, the Belgian wasn’t able to be the fiery winger he earned the reputation for being. Clearly unfit and that showed with a frustrating showing.
Karim Benzema (7.5) –
Madrid’s MVP this season needs to produce something special today. Stung Ederson’s hands with a clever shot in the 21st minute. Then kickstarted his goal, encouraging Rodrygo forward before striking a beautiful header past Ederson. Bit sloppy with his shots early in the second-half , especially in hitting a shot straight at Ederson from a promising area in the 64th.
Benzema at least tried grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and inspire a comeback for City, but wasn’t helped by his sloppy teammates. Now the 4th highest goal-scorer in UCL history and you can’t deny his effort after another solid performance today.
Marco Asensio (5.5) –
Almost made instant impact by going through on goal in the 64th minute before finding a clever pass to Benzema who couldn’t finish the chance. Tried to create some stuff, but found no energy from his fellow attackers.
Lucas Vazquez (N/R) –
Brought on too late to make any sort of an impact.
Fede Valverde (N/R) –
Tried raising his teammates’ energy levels but couldn’t do so in the final minutes.
Luka Jovic (N/R) –
Added no goal-scoring threat whatsoever in his short cameo.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Benzema looked the only Madrid player hungry to make the comeback and was their best player for today. But Gabriel Jesus deserves the MOTM for his brilliant instincts earning him a goal+assist to pile on Madrid’s sorrows.