Real Madrid stun City to set up Champions League final date with Liverpool

Madrid: Real Madrid have done it again.

The 13-time European champions produced yet another magical Champions League night at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday (Thursday AEST), rallying late with two goals in two minutes by substitute Rodrygo to force extra time and defeat Manchester City 3-1 to reach their first final in four seasons.

Karim Benzema, the hero of Madrid’s previous Champions League comebacks this season, converted a penalty kick in extra time for the decisive goal that allowed Madrid to advance 6-5 on aggregate after a 4-3 first-leg semi-final loss in which they were lucky to escape losing by a bigger margin.

Madrid had already pulled off thrilling comebacks at the Bernabeu against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 and Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

By doing it again against City, Madrid booked a spot in the May 28 final in Paris against Liverpool, who advanced after defeating Villarreal on Tuesday. Madrid defeated Liverpool in the 2018 final, when the Spanish powerhouse clinched a record-extending 13th title.

The result ended City’s quest for their first Champions League trophy. Pep Guardiola’s team lost in the final last year to Chelsea.

Karim Benzema was again the Champions League hero for Real Madrid.Credit:Getty

Madrid looked beaten near the end of regulation when Rodrygo scored his goals two minutes apart. Riyad Mahrez had put City ahead in the 73rd but the Brazilian forward equalised in the 90th and got the go-ahead goal with a header a minute into stoppage time.

A few minutes before Rodrygo’s first goal, Ferland Mendy had saved Madrid from conceding a second goal that could have sealed City’s qualification by clearing the ball in front of the goal line while tumbling backward to keep an attempt by Jack Grealish from going in.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois moments later saved a Grealish shot with the bottom of his cleat.

Madrid carried all the momentum into extra time and Benzema gave the hosts the 3-1 lead by converting a 95th-minute penalty kick after he was fouled inside the area.

AP

Watch football’s biggest superstars in the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sport. Coverage continues for the Semi-Finals this week with Frankfurt v West Ham (Friday 4:35am AEST) – all matches streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport.

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