Manuel Pellegrini’s men were kept at arm’s length in the first half but clawed themselves back into the game as the clock ticked down, ensuring they can leave with heads held high
A beaten Laurent Blanc sniped that Manchester City had gatecrashed the big-boys’ party by reaching the Champions League semi-finals, but Manuel Pellegrini’s men did not look out of place as they battled – in vain – at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Blues had surpassed all expectations to get this far and, after beating Paris Saint-Germain and forcing Blanc into his bitter remark, nobody could argue that they did not deserve their place among Europe’s elite. But if they hoped that they could exploit the spaces left by Madrid’s forwards, as they have done so well in this competition, they were ultimately frustrated.
It was supposed that Zinedine Zidane’s side would be more favourable opponents than either Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid.
But for much of the first half, Madrid had City at arm’s length. Thanks to Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco, los Blancos skilfully evaded the visitors’ pressing system, one that has worked perfectly on so many European nights this season.
Real Madrid would fight for their 11th European crown against Spanish rivals Athletico Madrid in Milan on May 28th