Sport

DREAM EXTINGUISHED

Real Madrid dispatch holders Man City in Champions League shootout

Real Madrid dispatch holders Man City in Champions League shootout
Real Madrid stars Jude Bellingham and Vinícius Júnior salute the travelling supporters after their penalty shootout win against Manchester City. (Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images)

Real Madrid eliminated Manchester City from the Champions League in a tense penalty shootout while Bayern Munich advanced to the last four after beating Arsenal 1-0.

Antonio Rudiger scored the decisive penalty as Real Madrid beat holders Manchester City in an edge-of-your-seat 4-3 shootout victory to reach the semifinals of the Champions League after the teams were locked at 4-4 on aggregate following extra time on Wednesday.

City’s Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic both misfired in the shootout to put Madrid in the driving seat and Rudiger slotted their final effort past keeper Ederson to extinguish City’s dreams of a second straight treble. The game ended 1-1 after extra time.

“We started well, went ahead and then we had to fight to survive, we had to suffer. City had control because we defended too deep,” Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar. “By the time the penalty shootout came, we were totally convinced we’d go through.

“This is about the only way you can come to City and win. You work, sacrifice and win however you can.”

An absorbing encounter had finished 1-1 on the night after Kevin De Bruyne’s second-half effort had cancelled out Rodrygo’s opener for Madrid, who sealed a semifinal berth against Bayern Munich.

“We’ve suffered a lot because City are a very strong team that put you against the ropes, but we are Real Madrid and we fought until the end. What matters is that we are in the semifinals,” Madrid skipper Nacho told Movistar Plus+.

“These are magical nights and I have goosebumps. It’s one of those ones you dream of as a child.”

Real Madrid

Bayern’s Jamal Musiala is challenged by Arsenal’s Declan Rice during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second-leg match at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, on 17 April 2024. (Photo: Boris Streubel / Getty Images)

After the teams had slugged out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the first leg, Madrid, who have hoisted the Champions League trophy a record 14 times, took the lead in the tie when Rodrygo stunned the Etihad crowd with a goal in the 12th minute.

England international Jude Bellingham picked a long ball out of the air with stunning control in the build-up to Rodrygo’s goal. Vinícius Júnior crossed to the 23-year-old Brazilian, whose first shot was batted away by Ederson before he tucked in an easy rebound.

“It’s relief,” Bellingham told TNT Sports. “You put so much into the game. I’ve played against City before and they snatch it away from you. I was pretty much dead on my feet at the end.

“It’s so difficult. They are continuously probing with the ball and move you around. Most teams would fall apart when City get on top of you, but we stood up really well.”

Rodrygo’s goal was Madrid’s final shot on target on a night that City had 68% possession, but the home side squandered chance after chance – several from prolific striker Erling Haaland who was replaced at the end of normal time by Julian Alvarez.

De Bruyne finally drew them level in the 76th minute with a close-range finish and the Belgian had two incredible chances to put City ahead, but launched both shots over the crossbar as manager Pep Guardiola buried his face in frustration.

“Congratulations to Real Madrid, they defend so deep, with incredible solidarity,” Guardiola said. “We did everything. I have no regrets about what we’ve done.

“Defensively, offensively, we played exceptional in all departments, in everything, and unfortunately we couldn’t win, so that’s what it is.”

Madrid hero Antonio Rudiger celebrates after scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League quarterfinal penalty shootout against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 17 April 2024. (Photo: Alex Livesey – Danehouse / Getty Images)

Shootout

That took the tie to extra time but City could not muster a winning goal.

While Luka Modric failed to convert Madrid’s opening spot kick, Bellingham, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho were on target for the visitors, and Julian Alvarez, Phil Foden and Ederson found the net for City.

“Our biggest strength is he (manager Carlo Ancelotti) finds a way to let a lot of boys play with freedom. We’re so off-the-cuff,” Bellingham said. “As a man he fills you with calmness and confidence. I caught him yawning and he said to go out and excite him.

“You have to see it as a responsibility, not a pressure, if you want to play for a team like Real Madrid. Today it came down to mentality.”

City have little time to lick their wounds as they head to Wembley on Saturday to play Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals. They also have a two-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League with six games remaining.

Borussia Dortmund will face Paris St Germain in the other Champions League semifinal.

Kevin De Bruyne scored Manchester City’s only goal in the match but it wasn’t enough as the defending champions were beaten by Real Madrid on penalties. (Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images)

Gunners out

Arsenal’s players were stung by their Champions League quarterfinal exit on Wednesday but manager Mikel Arteta said they still have something “beautiful” to play for in the last few weeks of the season as they chase the Premier League title.

Arsenal’s campaign in Europe’s elite club competition came to an end with a 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich and followed their elimination from both domestic cup tournaments.

The north London club are still in the hunt for the league title, however, sitting second on 71 points, level with Liverpool and two behind leaders Manchester City.

With City in action in the FA Cup this weekend, Arsenal can return to the top of the table with a win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

“What (the players) need is that we stand right next to them, give them our support, our love, and I will have to pick it up because on Saturday we have a big, big, big game,” Arteta told reporters.

“We’re still playing for the Premier League and I really want it. We have to show now that we are capable of turning this around.

“(The pain) is there and it’s not going to go away, certainly tonight, but I can guarantee you by tomorrow we are fully focused on Wolves and everybody’s lifted.

“What we still have to play for is beautiful.” Reuters/DM

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