Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne earned Manchester City a precious 2-1 win at Real Madrid.
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Manchester City came from behind to secure an impressive 2-1 win at Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
The match at a glance
City’s forward movement was one of the more intriguing features of the first half and it was Gabriel Jesus popping up on the left that offered the first real opening, Thibaut Courtois down sharply to keep out his shot. Ederson more than matched his counterpart when he dropped low to parry Karim Benzema’s header. Jesus also went close from a partially cleared corner on the stroke of half-time but Sergio Ramos and Federico Valverde conspired to clear.
Riyad Mahrez became more prominent after the interval, curling one shot narrowly wide before having another two repelled by Courtois. Isco needed just one opportunity to break the deadlock on the hour, though, finishing astutely after City had been dispossessed deep in midfield and Vinícius Júnior raced clear before squaring to his team-mate.
Kevin De Bruyne's role in City's equaliser was all the more impressive for the adversity, the visitors' captain for the night showing characteristic poise and vision to pick out Jesus who headed past Courtois. De Bruyne then completed the turnaround from the spot after Raheem Sterling had been fouled. Sergio Ramos's late red card compounded a disappointing evening for the hosts.
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne (Man. City)
Roberto Martínez, UEFA technical observer: "He was at the centre of every attacking threat for City. His clever positioning on the ball allowed City to create numerical advantages all over the pitch. He also displayed outstanding decisions on the ball and scored from the penalty spot."
View from the stadium: Graham Hunter, Real Madrid reporter
For most of the season, certainly since November, Madrid have bristled with energy, wave after wave of pressing, attacks, and the feeling that they have 12 men on the pitch. What horrid timing that just as the business end of the season arrives, in knockout form, they’ve dipped in terms of sharpness and stamina. Can they recuperate from such a crushing home reverse? They’ll welcome having three weeks to plan for it and lick their wounds.
Visitors' view: Simon Hart, Man. City reporter
Josep Guardiola opted for an unfamiliar strategy with De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva attacking centrally from deep and Jesus stationed out wide. He had used something similar in City’s January League Cup semi-final win at Manchester United and it paid off again here with a goal from Jesus – vindicating his surprise selection ahead of Sergio Agüero – before the fresh legs of substitute Sterling won their match-winning penalty. Credit too for the way they recovered from the loss of Aymeric Laporte to injury and concession of an avoidable opener.
Kevin De Bruyne, Man of the Match: "It's a very good start for the first game. The first 15 minutes we struggled a bit but you have to go through the storm. [It was] a pretty even first half and we started the second half really well and the goal comes at a bad moment because we were dominating at the time. But our response was brilliant – a beautiful goal from Gaby – and the second goal I could score, the penalty, was very important. It’s a really good start for us."
Josep Guardiola, Man. City manager: "We tried to come here to win the game and we did. This is just the first part. If one team can overcome this situation, it's this club."
- This was the first Champions League game at the Bernabéu to be goalless at half-time since the quarter-final second leg against Bayern in April 2017.
- Karim Benzema was making his 100th Champions League appearance for Real Madrid.
- City are the only one of the four English teams left in the competition to have scored in their round of 16 first leg.
- The opener marked Isco's first Champions League goal since September 2018.
- Jesus has scored in all three of his appearances in the Champions League round of 16.
- This was De Bruyne's first Champions League goal since September 2017 – and his first in the knockout rounds since April 2016.
- Madrid have won only three of their last ten European Bernabéu fixtures (D3 L4).
- This is City's first win in a knockout game away to a Spanish club in UEFA competition (D1 L4); home and away, a 3-0 home victory against Athletic Club in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg was their only win before tonight (D3 L6).
- Only five times in the UEFA Champions League era has a team turned round a tie after a home first-leg defeat, although three of those occurred in 2018/19.
Real Madrid: Courtois: Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modrić (Lucas Vázquez 84), Casemiro, Valverde; Isco (Jović 84), Benzema, Vinícius Júnior (Bale 75)
Man. City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte (Fernandinho 33), Mendy; Gündoğan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Jesus, Bernardo (Sterling 73)