Sports Desk, Apr 26 (EFE).- Hosts Manchester City led Real Madrid by two goals on three separate occasions during Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg, but the Blancos battled back on each occasion and the Premier League side will carry only a 4-3 advantage into next week’s decisive contest at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema had a brace and Vinicius Jr. scored on a great individual effort to keep alive Real Madrid’s quest for a record-extending 14th Champions League title.
The veteran French striker and the young Brazilian came to the rescue of a poor Blancos defense that shipped goals to Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva.
The crowd at the Etihad barely had time to settle in their seats before Riyad Mahrez blew past three Real Madrid defenders and served up a perfect cross that De Bruyne headed in to make it 1-0 in the 95th second – the quickest goal ever in a Champions League semifinal.
De Bruyne sent a cross into the box in the 11th minute and defender David Alaba’s botched attempt to clear set up the 2-0 for Jesus.
City should have been up 4-0 before the half-hour mark, but Mahrez put a shot into the side-netting and Foden fired wide before Benzema clawed back a goal for the Blancos in the 33rd minute with an assist from Ferland Mendy.
Ederson had to be sharp seconds later to stop Rodrygo from equalizing for Real Madrid and the score remained 2-1 at the break.
Mahrez found himself alone in front of Thibaut Courtois three minutes into the second half only to hit the post, and Dani Carvajal was there to clear Foden’s attempt on the rebound.
But Foden would not be denied and he beat Courtois with a precise header in the 53rd minute to extend City’s lead to 3-1, though only until Vini narrowed the deficit again in the 55th, using his pace to pull away from Fernandinho and put the ball past Ederson.
Fifteen minutes from the end of regulation, Toni Kroos brought down City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko on the edge of the area, but the referee played the advantage and Bernardo Silva wheeled toward goal and lofted the ball over an ill-prepared Courtois to make it 4-2.
The game was in the final 10 minutes when City’s Aymeric Laporte inadvertently handled the ball on a free kick and the referee pointed to the spot.
The unflappable Benzema bested Ederson with a Panenka and City coach Pep Guardiola endured a nerve-wracking 10 minutes until the final whistle. EFE rmm-msg/dr