Man City’s comeback at Real Madrid banishes doubt over Pep Guardiola’s selection

Just when Manchester City needed a miracle it duly came from the man called Jesus on a biblical night for Pep Guardiola at the Bernabeu.

Garbriel Jesus inspired Guardiola's men to a thrilling second half comeback to secure a stunning 2-1 triumph over Real Madrid and take full control of this Champions League last 16 tie.

Kevin De Bruyne notched the winner from the penalty spot after substitute Raheem Sterling had been tripped, to leave the Spanish giants in disarray and ending the clash with 10 men following the dismissal of captain Sergio Ramos.

But after an hour it all looked quite bleak for the visitors, who fell behind to Isco's first goal of the season following a horrendous mistake by Kyle Walker.

Guardiola's men were made to pay for wasting a glut of chances to leave the City boss bracing himself for some pain on his return to Spain – until two goals in five mad minutes turned the tie on its head.

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Guardiola's team selection before kick off did nothing to dispel the theory he tends to overthink things in big European games like these.

The Spaniard, who made two changes, left Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Sterling on the bench for what was without doubt the biggest game of City's season.

The last team to leave Sterling on the bench for a game in the Bernabeu, Liverpool, saw him leave them that summer to join City in a £50m deal.

City might have arrived in the Spanish capital in confident mood, but the size of their task was huge.

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Real had not lost to an English side on home soil since going down to Liverpool 11 years ago, Zidane had won all 12 of his knockout ties as boss while the 13-time winners had scored at least one goal in their past 22 knockout matches in the Bernabeu.

Ironically the last boss to stop them finding the back of the net was Guardiola when in charge of Barcelona in 2011, the year he last lifted the trophy with the big ears.

Guardiola might have delivered five trophies since taking charge, including five of the last six domestic ones available, but landing the biggest one of all was what he was hired for and it has eluded him, piling the pressure on like never before.

Throw into the mix the European ban and fact he has given no indication he will extend his contract beyond the end of next season and this could well prove to be his last crack as City boss.

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It was City who threatened first on 21 minutes when De Bruyne picked out Jesus in space, but his powerful strike was well blocked by Thibaut Courtois before De Bruyne blazed high and wide himself.

But Real should have gone ahead on 31 minutes when Karim Benzema's downward header was parried straight into the path of Vinicius Junior by Ederson, but the Brazilian international slipped at the crucial moment and a glorious chance had gone.

Casemiro hacked Jesus's shot off his own line on the stroke of half-time and City continued the pressure after the break when Mahrez shot wide and was twice denied by the excellent Courtois.

The saves were to prove costly when the stalemate was broken on the hour mark by Isco, who produced a clinical finish to punish City after Kyle Walker's defensive error had gifted the ball to Viniscus Junior.

But City climbed off the canvas to stun home fans when Jesus rose above Ramos to head in the equaliser before Dani Carvajal felled Sterling and De Bruyne made no mistake from the spot.

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REAL MADRID (4-3-3): COURTOIS 8; Carvajal 6, Varane 7, Ramos 7, Mendy 7; Valverde 6, Casemiro 7, Modric 6 (Vazquez 82); Vinicius Junior 7 (Bale 75); Benzema 6, Isco 6 (Jovic 82). Subs: Areola, Militao, Kroos, Marcelo.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Ederson 7; Walker 6, Otamendi 7, Laporte 7 (Fernandinho 32, 7), Mendy 6; Mahrez 7, Gundogan 7, Rodrigo 8, JESUS 9; De Bruyne 8, Bernardo 8 (Sterling 74). Subs: Bravo, Aguero, Silva, Cancelo, Foden.

REFEREE: Daniele Orsato (Italy) 7

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