Slender lead for Manchester

Pep Guardiola’s City broke the deadlock after just 94 seconds as it scored the fastest goal in a Champions League semi-final.
Slender lead for Manchester
Vinicius Jr and Fernandinho engage in a duel

Manchester: Despite missed chances and defensive mistakes in an extraordinary match at the Etihad Stadium here on Tuesday, Manchester City will take a slender 4-3 lead into the second leg of its Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola’s City broke the deadlock after just 94 seconds as it scored the fastest goal in a Champions League semi-final. Kevin De Bruyne produced a diving header after being set-up by Riyad Mahrez, who delivered an inch-perfect ball from the right flank.

The home team doubled its advantage through Gabriel Jesus in the 11th minute, with the Brazilian forward collecting a pass from De Bruyne and spinning away from David Alaba before drilling the ball home. City had two glorious chances to extend the lead, but Mahrez and Phil Foden failed to make the most of them.

The host was made to rue its missed opportunities since the tourist got back into the match via a familiar source. In the 33rd minute, Karim Benzema beat his marker Oleksandr Zinchenko and scored a goal out of nothing as the French striker guided a Ferland Mendy cross into the far, bottom corner with a delicate steer.

Much to the delight of the home fans, City restored a two-goal cushion eight minutes after the interval.

Substitute Fernandinho, who played as a makeshift right-back, picked out Foden with a perfectly-weighted ball, which the England international nodded home. But, two minutes later, Real reduced the deficit to one as Fernandinho was caught out and allowed Vinicius Jr to run past him. The Brazilian winger sprinted deep into the area from the half-way line before poking the ball past City goalkeeper Ederson.

However, the Premier League champion found a way yet again, this time through midfield engine Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese beat Real custodian Thibaut Courtois with a superb drive into the top corner in the 74th minute. But, there was drama left as City centre-back Aymeric Laporte was penalised for a handball in the 18-yard box. Eight minutes from the end, Benzema converted the ensuing penalty with a cheeky chip down the middle.

RESULT: Semi-finals: First leg: Manchester City 4 (De Bruyne 2, G Jesus 11, P Foden 53, Bernardo 74) bt Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 33 & 82(P), Vinicius Jr 55)

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