Millennium Post

Real Madrid edge past City to set up all-Madrid final

The game brought a huge blow to the visitors within the initial minutes as their captain and defender Vincent Kompany had to be replaced by Eliaquim Mangala owing to a muscle problem incurred by him. The Blancos took advantage of the situation and relentlessly attacked the City goal with speedy moves from Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo. The momentum, built by Real for about 9 minutes, resulted into the only goal of the match, in the 20th minute. Running leisurely on the right flank, Carvajal intelligently passed the ball to Gareth Bale towards the right-hand side of the goalpost which Bale received and attempted a cross to the left. The cross took a slight deflection from Fernando’s outstretched leg and touched the back of the net via the far post.

Just 9 minutes before the half time, a Kroos free kick almost got the Madristas celebrating. Ramos had put in the ball from a Pepe touch to the free kick but Pepe was flagged offside by the linesman which nullified the goal. City’s only real chance in the first half came in the final minute when 
Fernando drove a powerful strike that hit the base of the left post.

The second half barely saw any action from both the sides despite the fact that Manchester City needed only a goal to progress to the final. City’s coach Manuel Pellegrini introduced Raheem Sterling in place of Yaya Toure in the final 30 minutes to boost City’s attack but that hardly affected the face of the gameplay. During the closing stages of the game, City’s spirit got momentarily lifted as Sergio Aguero shot a dipping strike that went narrowly over the target. Manchester City’s best run in the competition came to a crumbling end as the final whistle was blown. 

Coach Zidane has given Real Madrid belief, freedom: Bale
Real Madrid’s star forward Gareth Bale has praised coach Zinedine Zidane saying he has given the outfit freedom and belief since taking over the reins midway during the season. Bale forced an own goal from Manchester City defender Fernando in the 20th minute of their Champions League second leg semi-final match here on Wednesday to help Real Madrid win 1-0 and advance to the final.

They will now have a face off against Atletico Madrid at San Siro stadium in Milan on May 28. Zidane, a club legend in his playing days, took over from the sacked Rafael Benitez midway in the current season after some performances.

“He’s (Zidane) given us that belief and freedom to go out and express ourselves and enjoy ourselves,” Bale was quoted as saying by UEFA’s official website on Thursday.

“When players can do that you see the best of them.”

Bale, however, said that his goal which proved to be the winner eventually was a lucky strike as it took a crucial deflection of a City defender to go past goalkeeper Joe Hart.

“I went to cross, but obviously it doesn’t matter however the ball goes in the back of the net,” he said.

“We’re very happy and the most important thing is we’re in the final. We’re very excited to get to the final. We’re going to enjoy this result. It was a very difficult two-legged game against Manchester City.”

The Wales international added that it was a very professional performance from the Spanish heavyweights. “But we’re very happy that we kept two clean sheets and nicked a goal to get into the final. It was a very professional performance. We’ve really worked together as a team and that showed again tonight,” he said. 
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