Sports Football 27 Feb 2020 De Bruyne inspires l ...

De Bruyne inspires late turnaround as City stun Real Madrid

AFP
Published Feb 27, 2020, 10:02 am IST
Updated Feb 27, 2020, 11:51 am IST
With a victory and two away goals, Pep Guardiola's team are favourites to go through to quarter finals
 Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (centre) vies with Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (right) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 26, 2020. (AFP)
  Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (centre) vies with Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (right) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 26, 2020. (AFP)

Madrid: Kevin De Bruyne orchestrated a dramatic Manchester City comeback as they stunned Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Madrid looked on course to edge a cagey contest after Isco's smart finish early in the second half, but De Bruyne teed up Gabriel Jesus in the 78th minute and then tucked away a penalty five minutes later.

 

A pulsating finish on Wednesday saw Sergio Ramos sent off for preventing Jesus from going clear and Madrid's captain will now be banned for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 17.

City's two away goals will make them heavy favourites to go through, even if manager Pep Guardiola was quick to discourage complacency.

“It's still not over,” he said. “If there is one team that can overcome this it is this club (Real Madrid) with their experience and their history.”

“We know the situation,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “We have to go there and win.”

Madrid have now won only one of their last five games, with the Clasico against Barcelona in La Liga to come on Sunday.

Strikers on bench

Guardiola sprung a surprise by picking De Bruyne up front and leaving Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho all on the bench.

“We played without a proper striker because of the way they defend,” said Guardiola.

“They are so aggressive down the middle and when that happens you have to make the pitch wide.”

His gamble paid off handsomely, even if Nicolas Otamendi made the mistake that led to Isco's opener while an injury to Aymeric Laporte meant Fernandinho had to be introduced midway through the first half.

Laporte must now be doubtful for Sunday's League Cup final against Aston Villa. Guardiola insisted on Tuesday that Manchester City's two-year Champions League ban, pending appeal, imposed by UEFA for breaching financial fair play rules would not act as a spur for his players.

But it was on the minds of travelling fans, who were singing against European football's governing body from almost the first minute.

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