Manchester City hold Real Madrid to 1-1 draw in UCL semi-final first leg

Manchester City hold Real Madrid to 1-1 draw in UCL semi-final first leg

Real Madrid and Manchester City shared the spoils in a high-octane first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. Kevin de Bruyne’s unstoppable second-half strike cancelled out Vinicius Jr.’s stunning early effort to leave the honours even after an action-packed 90 minutes under the brightest lights in Europe’s premier competition.

Determined to avenge their heart-breaking defeat in last season’s final-four matchup, Manchester City set the early tone in Madrid. Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri tested Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal from long distance in the opening exchanges and the away side dominated the possession with their slick passing and intense high-press. However, Madrid were able to absorb the early pressure. The centre-backs – Rudiger and Alaba – denied Erling Haaland any meaningful opportunities before the home side hit back to open the scoring against the run of play with their first shot on target.

Eduardo Camavinga set up the move for Real Madrid from left-back, driving forward into the heart of the Manchester City defence with a marauding 50-yard dash before setting up Vinicius Jr, who unleashed a pure strike from the edge of the area. The Brazilian’s cracking shot rattled past Ederson into the top corner, helping the hosts regain control of the tie and dent Manchester City’s momentum.

Madrid grew in confidence in the second half on the back of Vinicius’s opener and had chances to double their lead after the break via Karim Benzema. Manchester City struggled to assert the same control on the contest throughout the second period, but Kevin de Bruyne popped up at the right moment to drag the away side back into the contest. Ilkay Gundogan laid the ball onto the path of the Belgian, and de Bruyne took his time before unleashing a rocket of a strike past his countryman Thibaut Courtois into the bottom corner in the 67th minute.

De Bruyne’s stinging effort silenced the Los Blancos crowd, but Real Madrid had chances to re-take the lead in the tie in the final 20 minutes. Karim Benzema forced Ederson into a fine one-handed save from a header, while the Brazilian shot-stopper also had to be alert in the closing stages to keep out a firm strike from Aurelien Tchouameni.

However, neither side had the time to find a winner in Madrid, setting up a tantalising second leg in Manchester next week as Real look to defend their Champions League crown, while Manchester City continue their search for that elusive maiden European title.