Real Madrid’s five-time European champions dream was shattered in devastating fashion in Manchester on Wednesday, leaving the club stunned as they returned to the Spanish capital. Carlo Ancelotti’s side were dealt a crushing blow by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, with the English side seeking revenge for last season’s defeat by Los Blancos at the same stage.
Unlike the previous season, this time the second leg was not at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Madrid produced a string of astonishing comebacks to overcome Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and City on the way to winning the competition.
Madrid are known for pulling off great comebacks in Europe, but that was not the case in this match as the team failed to go beyond their limits to produce another memorable win.
Even when Madrid have been outplayed, they have always found a way through to the next round, but this time they were unable to do so.
The match began with City dominating, just as they did last week at the Bernabeu in the 1-1 first leg draw, before Vinicius Junior sucker-punched the English side on the counter. Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois foiled Erling Haaland twice, the second of which was a brilliant save.
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However, unlike in the first leg, Bernardo Silva broke free of Eduardo Camavinga’s shackles and was decisive.
The Portuguese midfielder struck twice, leaving Madrid with an uphill struggle — although they have come back from those before.
Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos hit the crossbar with a rocket from distance.
“On this occasion things didn’t go our way like they did last year,” lamented Courtois, referring to the German’s piledriver.
Last season Rodrygo Goes struck two late goals in less than two minutes to force the second leg to extra-time, and Madrid improved after the break, with a comeback still not off the table.
However, City eventually stepped up another gear to whisk the game away from Madrid, scraping around for another moment of inspiration but finding none.
Eder Militao deflected Manuel Akanji’s header into his own net for City’s third and Julian Alvaraz rolled the fourth past Courtois to wrap up their emphatic victory.
“Evaluating what happened in this moment what happened makes no sense to me,” Ancelotti told Movistar.
“It’s a defeat that hurts but sometimes it can happen in football, in the Champions League semi-final against a strong opponent that played better than you.”
The Italian coach has confirmed he is planning on staying with the team for another year, as his contract expires in June 2024. The club’s board and president, Florentino Perez, publicly backed Ancelotti staying with the team.
However, with Madrid’s disappointing exit from the Champions League, questions may arise about the team’s future plans.
Madrid will have to look for something more tangible than miracles next season, with their current formula of individual skill, never-say-die spirit and luck failing to take them to the final.