Madrid: Manchester City finally produced a Champions League performance worthy of their status as one of European football’s elite clubs by beating Real Madrid 2-1 away in Wednesday’s last-16 first leg after pulling off a stunning late fight back.
Kevin De Bruyne kept his cool to beat Belgium team mate Thibaut Courtois from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute to give City the lead after Gabriel Jesus had headed home a cross from De Bruyne to pull the visitors level in the 78th minute.
Isco had given Real the lead on the hour mark following a sweeping counterattack but the 13-times European champions’ night soon unravelled, culminating in captain Sergio Ramos being sent off for hauling down Jesus in a bid to prevent a third City goal.
City coach Pep Guardiola, who has not gone past the quarter-final in his three previous seasons with the club, was delighted with how his side turned the match around but also said the tie was still wide open.
“Winning in the Bernabeu gives us great satisfaction, it’s incredible for us and not something this club is used to. I’m very pleased with the result and the performance, we showed great personality,” he said before sounding a note of caution. “If there is one club who was capable of turning a tie around it is Real Madrid, they have the history and experience in this competition to do it.”
Ramos will be suspended for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 17 while City’s influential defender Aymeric Laporte was forced off injured in the first half, another setback in a season marked by fitness troubles.
City went into the match with a two-year ban from European competition hanging around their necks for defying UEFA’s rules on financial fair play although the club submitted an appeal against the sanction earlier this week.