Manchester City on Saturday beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie in UEFA Champions League 2019-20. Following an identical result in the first leg meant that City knocked Madrid out with an aggregate score of 4-2.
Raphael Varane emerged as the main culprit in Zinedine Zidane-managed side’s defeat as he committed two errors which led to goals for City in Manchester. Karim Benzema, on the other hand, had restored some pride for the visitors.
In the absence of their captain and central defender Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid were left left more vulnerable in what was already a mountainous task. Eventually, they failed to overpower Pep Guardiola’s men and Zidane suffered his first Champions League elimination as Real Madrid coach.
Varane made his first mistake of the day in the ninth minute as he was dispossessed inside the box. It allowed Raheem Sterling to get the hosts 1-0 up and earn the dividends for their high-pressing game from the opening whistle.
However, Real Madrid looked desperate to bring parity into the contest. Eden Hazard and Benzema tried their luck but City keeper Ederson denied the both. It didn’t take long for the Spanish champions to get on equal terms though.
Benzema combined brilliantly with Rodrygo before the latter clipped in a cross from the right. The French man rose above City defenders Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho to head in the equaliser from the edge of the six-yard box.
It was Benzema’s 65th Champions League goal which has put him fourth in the list of all-time highest scorer of the tournament. He stands behind Raul, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But he failed to celebrate the achievement as Real Madrid players were destined for another embarrassment midway into the second half.
A high ball from City saw Varane struggling at an awkward position. The France international now only misjudged the delivery but his headed attempt to guide it to his keeper Thibaut Courtois fell short. Gabriel Jesus was at the right place at the right time and put the ball into the back of the net.
The goal potentially ended Madrid’s hope of making it to their 10th straight Champions League quarterfinals. But it gave City their finest Champions League result and their most significant knockout victory in Europe’s premier club competition.
City’s best performance in Champions League still remains their run to semifinals in 2016. However, it looks different this season as Guardiola’s men have been pipped by many as the favourites for the title.
Also, if the Blues of Manchester manage to lift the title, the victory would taste sweeter than imagination especially after they successfully fought back against UEFA’s decision of banning them from European competitions for three seasons in Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).