Real Madrid was forced to a 1-1 draw by Manchester City after Kevin De Bruyne and Vinicius Junior both scored stunners.
The visitors dominated the opening stages with almost all of the ball as the hosts kept their shape and waited for any rare opportunities to counter-attack.
With Erling Haaland kept quiet, City’s best chance fell to Rodri who forced a diving save from Thibaut Courtois with a shot from distance, but Pep Guardiola’s side were limited to half chances throughout.
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And against the run of play, Real had the first moment of magic as Vinicius unleashed a thunderbolt from almost 30 yards that flew past Ederson and gave the hosts the lead.
City, stunned, struggled to break down a Real Madrid side that planned perfectly for all their opponent’s possession.
And as the hosts grew into the game, Rodrygo, Vinicius and Karim Benzema started to create chances of their own as Real Madrid had their best spell of the match.
But just as Vinicius had done in the first half, City scored with their opponents on top as De Bruyne’s sweet strike from the edge of the box pulled them level.
With the game in the balance, Benzema forced a diving save from Ederson and De Bruyne continued to threaten with brilliant balls into the box.
But neither side could find a winner to take into a second leg at the Etihad where they must be separated.
Real Madrid’s Ancelotti, says goal should have not counted
Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti said Manchester City’s equaliser in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg should not have counted.
Ancelotti was not happy with the referee for failing to consult with VAR after City’s goal because he felt Bernardo Silva took the ball over the touchline in the build-up to Kevin De Bruyne’s stunning strike.
Referee Artur Soares Dias showed Ancelotti a yellow card for entering the field of play as he protested the goal and the Italian was still unhappy with the official after the game.
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“The ball was off the pitch,” Ancelotti said. “The technology said it. I don’t understand why VAR didn’t check it. The referee didn’t pay attention to many things tonight.”
Vinicius Jr had given Real Madrid the lead against the run of play with a thunderous effort before De Bruyne stepped up for his team to bring them level with an equally-impressive strike when the hosts were in charge.
Ancelotti’s side Real Madrid had struggled to cope with City for the opening half-hour, but grew into the game after going ahead and looked the more threatening in the second half.
They now have to beat City at the Etihad, a feat only Brentford have achieved this season, to reach the final of the Champions League if they wish to avoid penalties.
Ancelotti added: “A good game, an interesting game. Difficult for us in the first half, in the second half it was much better. They controlled possession in the first half but we were in a good control defensively and when we started to play the ball, we created a lot of difficulties.
“You have to stay calm, you have to keep the position defensively, do not go crazy to press, stay there and play the low block, and when we had the opportunity, we scored the first goal. Vinicius Junior is in a fantastic moment but the team played well.
“I am satisfied, with a good sensation about the game on Wednesday.”
Guardiola impressed with his players
Pep Guardiola was impressed by the way his side dealt with the occasion at the Santiago Bernabeu to set up what up is now effectively a play-off game at the Etihad to reach the Champions League final.
“When we were better they score. When they were better we score,” he told BT Sport. “Tight, tight game. The Bernabeu in the semi-final, sometimes we had good moments and sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have on the ball. Final next Wednesday at home with our people.
“We started really well in the second half as well and then after they got the game we could not take it. They play a lot of passes on the left and they are really good there but then we score a fantastic goal through Kevin De Bruyne and had good moments and then at the end they had a few good chances.
“They are so demanding, with the experience and quality. We are travelling to Manchester and we will see what we can do better.
“When you play this kind of game it is like a play-off, so hopefully we can learn, defend better and attack better.”
The Spanish press had billed Tuesday night’s game as a battle between Vinicius and Erling Haaland, two of Europe’s most talented young players.
It was the Real Madrid man that stole the show as Haaland had the fewest touches of all the starters, but Guardiola praised the Norway striker’s performance.
“The pockets and distances between the central defender and full-backs was occupied,” Guardiola added. “It was not easy for Erling. He moved well and had his chances.”