MANCHESTER: Manchester City reached the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Real Madrid 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) at the Etihad Stadium last night, with scorers Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus taking advantage of dreadful errors by Raphael Varane.
Having beaten the 13-times European champions at home and away, City will now head to Lisbon for the ‘final eight’ tournament where they will face Olympique Lyonnais, who knocked out Juventus in Friday’s other game, on Aug. 15.
Real, trailing 2-1 from the first-leg were without suspended skipper and defensive lynchpin Sergio Ramos and it showed, with the Spaniards looking shaky at the back throughout.
Pep Guardiola’s City side were confident and focused and avoiding the kind of defensive lapses that have cost them in the knockout stage in previous campaigns.
Instead it was Real whose frailty was exposed and they made a disastrous start, gifting City a ninth minute opener.
Frenchman Varane, having received a pass inside his own area from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, was robbed by City forward Jesus and he slipped the ball to Sterling who slotted home.
There was a strong response from the Spanish champions, with City keeper Ederson forced into fine saves to keep out efforts from Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard.
Ederson could do nothing, however, to keep out a bullet header from Benzema in the 28th minute, the Frenchman rising to power home a superb pin-point cross from Rodrygo.
But Real’s defensive uncertainty was highlighted again three minutes before the interval when Courtois cleared straight to Kevin De Bruyne who quickly fed Phil Foden, but the youngster’s shot flashed just wide.
City created plenty of chances after the break but lacked the killer touch and it took another piece of calamitous defending by Varane to decide the tie in the 68th minute.
Having initially failed to head clear a long ball, Varane’s attempted header back to Courtois was too weak and Jesus was alert again, nipping in to flick it past the keeper and make the score 2-1 on the night.
“We wanted to be right on them and from our pressing we got two goals,” said Sterling, who got his 100th goal for the club.
“We know how good they are, we know how good we are and the difference was who would run the most and I thought we were brilliant,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace, including an unstoppable long-range goal, to give Juventus a 2-1 win over Olympique Lyonnais but it was not enough as the French side reached the quarter-finals on away goals.
After both sides converted contentious penalties in the first half, Ronaldo struck from out of the blue on the hour but Lyon clung on for a 2-2 aggregate draw which sent them to next week’s Final Eight tournament in Lisbon. They will meet Manchester City in a one-legged quarter-final.