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Manchester City resist late Real Madrid surge

Manchester City 0-0 Real Madrid
Joe Hart made a stunning late stop to deny Pepe and keep this semi-final tie finely poised ahead of next week's second leg.

Watch the best of the action from a tight first leg as Manchester City and Real Madrid drew 0-0. Joe Hart was City's hero as he produced two excellent saves to ensure it's level going into the second leg.
First leg highlights: Hart helps City keep Madrid at bay
  • Joe Hart denies Pepe late on as Manchester City hold Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo a late withdrawal before kick-off with thigh injury
  • David Silva and Karim Benzema substituted before second period
  • Real Madrid's 27th appearance in the European Cup semi-finals; City's first
  • The second leg is at the Bernabéu next Wednesday, with the final in Milan on 28 May

It is all to play for in Spain next Wednesday after semi-final debutants Manchester City held ten-time European Cup winners Real Madrid to a cagey goalless draw – but only after a fantastic late stop from Joe Hart.

The late withdrawal of Cristiano Ronaldo could have thrown doubt on City's plan to keep it tight but for 80 minutes the English team stuck resolutely to their script. The visitors threatened to spoil the ending, though, as they finished strongly. Hart denied Casemiro before a terrific point-blank stop to keep Pepe out and City in it.

Kevin De Bruyne skips Casemiro's challenge
Kevin De Bruyne skips Casemiro's challenge©AFP/Getty Images

Manuel Pellegrini, up against his former club, warned his City players about the need to keep "emotions under control" on the eve of the first leg and even the absence of Ronaldo did not knock them off their stride. The first 80 minutes was a study in discipline and focus, with both teams playing a waiting game: who would blink first?

Defences held sway, with Fernandinho breaking up play with alacrity at one end and Real Madrid's back line displaying similar enthusiasm at the other, snapping into tackles. The loss of David Silva to a muscle strain before half-time further depleted City's forward thrust, while Karim Benzema's failure to emerge after the break did likewise for Madrid.

Hart confident of going through
Hart confident of going through

The second period continued in a similar vein, though gradually the visitors began enjoying the better of the play. Sergio Ramos sent a free header straight at Hart, who was extended further 19 minutes from time when substitute Jesé rose to send a cross beyond his fingertips but against the bar. Pepe had the best chance of all but Hart and City held on.

Analysis from Tom Kell at the City of Manchester Stadium

Key player: Joe Hart
Little more than a spectator for much of this fixture, Hart showed just what a class act he is with two superb stops in the closing stages. There were others on the pitch who showed more sustained excellence over the course of the 90 minutes, but none did so much to impact the outcome. City could have been out of the tie without him.

Cristiano Ronaldo watches on
Cristiano Ronaldo watches on©AFP/Getty Images

Impossible shoes to fill
Lucas Vázquez had just 163 minutes of UEFA Champions League experience to his name before being plunged into the starting XI as Ronaldo's replacement. The all-time top scorer, by contrast, has played well over 180 HOURS of football in Europe's premier club competition. Lucas Vázquez's was a functional, earnest performance – a far cry from the talismanic, match-winning displays Ronaldo puts in on this sort of stage.

Modrić: We should have won
Modrić: We should have won

Missed chance for City?
No question, City were the better team for large chunks of the evening. Vincent Kompany, who had implored them to play the "game of their lives", was in particularly uncompromising mood, while Fernandinho showed great bite in the tackle and Kevin De Bruyne was notably effective too. Despite a number of fine individual performances, they ended up hanging on – can they really expect a second bite at the cherry in the Spanish capital?

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