Manchester City and Real Madrid served up a Champions League classic as Pep Guardiola’s side emerged 4-3 winners in their semi-final first leg, but who were the star performers?
Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus gave the hosts a two-goal lead inside 11 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, but Real Madrid refused the lie down, hitting back through Karim Benzema, who later added his second goal with a Panenka penalty.
Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva were also on target for City, who will feel they should have won by a bigger margin, but Vinicius Junior scored a stunning solo strike in between Benzema’s two efforts.
The result leaves the tie hanging tantalisingly in the balance ahead of next week’s second leg at the Bernabeu, but how did we rate the players on a thrilling night at the Etihad?
Ederson – 6
Showed his usual swagger on the ball, waiting until the last second before releasing his passes, but will feel disappointed to have conceded three times. Made to look foolish by Benzema’s impudent penalty and might have done better with his first.
John Stones – 6
Handed the unenviable task of filling in at right-back against Vinicius Junior due to Kyle Walker’s injury and Joao Cancelo’s suspension. Coped relatively well in the early stages before he was forced off with an injury after just 36 minutes and replaced by Fernandinho.
Ruben Dias – 6
Only his second start since the beginning of March following a hamstring injury and, perhaps unsurprisingly, showed signs of rustiness. Struggled to exert his usual authority in City’s defence.
Aymeric Laporte – 5
Had difficult moments against Benzema and guilty of conceding the penalty for Madrid’s third with a needless handball. Popped up at the other end occasionally and had a chance to score in the second half but directed Zinchenko’s cross straight at Courtois.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
Generally coped well with Rodrygo at left-back and helped build attacks effectively when drifting into midfield. Should have done better on Benzema’s goal, when the Frenchman beat him to Ferland Mendy’s cross, but helped set up Bernardo Silva for City’s fourth.
Rodri – 7
Helped City control proceedings in the first half, completing 49 of his 51 attempted passes. Not quite as influential in the second period as Real Madrid fought their way back into the game but solid overall.
Kevin de Bruyne – 9
Outstanding. His run for the opening goal was brilliant and so too was the finish. From there, he tormented Real Madrid. Set up City’s second goal with a fine, diagonal cross for Jesus and created a succession of other chances for his team-mates.
Bernardo Silva – 8
A classic Bernardo Silva performance. Never stopped running and was involved in practically every City attack. Showed impressive alertness to continue playing in the build-up to his goal and took the chance in clinical fashion, blasting past Courtois at his near post.
Riyad Mahrez – 8
An excellent assist for the opener as he cut inside from the right, ran past a crowd of defenders and crossed for De Bruyne. Went close to scoring himself on numerous occasions after that, striking the post, having an effort cleared off the line, then firing inches wide following a Lionel Messi-esque dribble.
Phil Foden – 8
Produced some dazzling moments of skill on City’s left, particularly in the first half. Missed a couple of chances, firing narrowly wide from a De Bruyne pass and seeing a close-range effort cleared off the line, but in the right place at the right time for the third goal and was a menace throughout.
Gabriel Jesus – 7
Kept his place in the starting line-up following his four-goal haul against Watford on Saturday and immediately justified his selection when he shrugged off David Alaba and slid home City’s second. Worked hard throughout but faded a little in an attacking sense.
Fernandinho – 6
An eventful night for the 36-year-old after he was thrown on for Stones at right-back. Produced a brilliant run and cross to set up Foden’s goal but beaten far too easily by Vinicius Junior as Madrid hit back just a couple of minutes later.
Raheem Sterling – 6
Thrown on for Jesus in the closing stages but had little time to impact the game.
Thibaut Courtois – 5
Helpless as his clean sheet was spoilt within two minutes. Could do nothing for the second goal, which arrived nine minutes after the first or, later, Foden’s header. Misjudged Bernardo Silva’s strike which flew in high at his near post.
Daniel Carvajal – 5
Allowed too much space in behind Eder Militao for De Bruyne to run in and head home City’s first. The right-back then didn’t close down De Bruyne quick enough as he delivered the cross for the second. Made a goalline clearance from Foden early in the second half but was later out-of-position as the forward easily headed home the third.
Eder Militao – 5
Back in the team following injury which had kept him out since the first leg of the quarter-finals and looked rusty. The Brazilian was never comfortable with Gabriel Jesus buzzing around him. Almost made a costly error in first-half injury time when he gave the ball away in his own half and was let off again at the start of the second when he missed a clearance, allowing Mahrez in on goal.
David Alaba – 5
At fault for the second goal, failing to clear De Bruyne’s cross which left Gabriel Jesus with a simple finish. Nearly pulled one back in the first half with a difficult header that went narrowly wide. Subbed at half-time.
Ferland Mendy – 6
Allowed Riyad Mahrez to easily cut inside from the right in the build-up to City’s opener and played a poor pass which enabled Fernandinho to intercept and deliver the cross for Foden’s goal. However, assisted Benzema’s first-half volley with an awkward cross and also played a good pass into Vinicius Junior which allowed him to dummy the ball past Fernandinho and burst through for Real’s second.
Federico Valverde – 6
Stuck to his task and tried hard to match City’s intensity in midfield but was simply outclassed by De Bruyne, like the rest of his team-mates.
Toni Kroos – 5
Played a dreadful short corner with Carvajal during a poor first-half display as the pace of the game looked too much for him. Kept going until the end but nowhere near his best. Fouled Zinchenko in the build-up to City’s fourth as advantage was played.
Luka Modric – 6
Struggled in midfield during the first 45 although won the ball with a well-timed sliding tackle which led to Benzema’s first. Shot wide late on with his last act before being subbed. Has had much better nights.
Rodrygo – 6
Was largely pocketed by Zinchenko, who rattled into him after 30 minutes with a good tackle, although did force Ederson into his only save of the opening period. Subbed after 70 minutes.
Karim Benzema – 8
Starved of service on his 600th Real appearance yet still scored with a superb first-time volley from a half-chance. Also delivered a good cross from which Alaba headed wide. Showed his class throughout before brilliantly chipping his penalty down the middle to keep Madrid in the tie.
Vinicius Junior – 7
Should have done more to stop Mahrez from cutting inside and assisting City’s opener in a quiet first-half performance. Came to life in the second half with a wonderful solo goal and had the beating of Fernandinho.
Nacho – 5
Subbed on at half-time but couldn’t calm a chaotic back line.
Eduardo Camavinga – 6
Introduced with 20 minutes remaining to freshen up the midfield which he did with plenty of energy.
Dani Ceballos – n/a
Replaced Modric for the final 10 minutes and was lively.
Marco Asensio – n/a
Came on with minutes left. Would have liked to get on earlier.