Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne powered home a rasping low shot from distance in the 67th minute to earn his side a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first leg.
City dominated the match on Tuesday in the early stages, but it was Real who took the lead as Vinicius Jr netted a brilliant curling strike from the edge of the area that flew into the top-right corner with Real’s first shot on target in the 36th minute.
Real got back on top in the second half and took control but it was City who scored after they won the ball high up the pitch, and it worked its way to De Bruyne who rifled a shot into the net to the goalkeeper’s right.
“It was a shame that we conceded that goal,” Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said. “I think we deserved more. They had more possession but didn’t create a lot of chances. It’s still 50-50 and we will go into the second match with confidence.”
The second leg will be played next week in Manchester. The first leg of the other semi-final between Italian rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan is on Wednesday.
Madrid beat City in last year’s semi-finals and went on to win a record-extending 14th Champions League title while the English club again fell short of European success.
Erling Haaland wasted a few chances early on in Tuesday’s game but was not much of a threat throughout the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The Norwegian came into the match having scored 12 of City’s 26 goals in the Champions League this season and was five short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s single season record of 17 for Madrid in 2013-14.
Vinícius Jr created problems for the city defence and opened the scoring in the 36th with his seventh Champions League goal this season. The Brazil forward picked up a pass from Eduardo Camavinga and used one touch to set up his right-footed shot from outside the area.
City struggled to come close to Madrid’s goal, but De Bruyne found the net in the 67th with a firm one-timer from outside the area after Madrid lost possession because of a poor pass across the field by Camavinga.
Haaland had not yet joined City when they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Madrid in last year’s semi-finals. Vinícius, Rodrygo and Karim Benzema combined for all of Madrid’s goals that time.
Madrid is making its 11th semi-final appearance in 13 seasons and is trying to win its sixth title in 10 years. City played in its first Champions League final two seasons ago, losing to Chelsea.
Madrid, which won the Copa del Rey title this past weekend, is virtually out of contention in the Spanish league and can fully focus on the semi-final against City. The English side remains in the middle of a tight title race in the Premier League.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES