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De Bruyne rocket leaves Man City and Real Madrid level

Haaland shackled

City were upset with some of Madrid’s defensive aggression, particularly Dani Carvajal’s attempts at shackling Grealish, including slamming him into the advertising hoardings without punishment.

David Alaba thwarted Haaland with a fine block early in the second half, as Madrid kept the Norwegian goal machine under lock and key on his first appearance against them.

Madrid did not allow him a clear sight of goal, ensuring he could not add to his 51 goals from 46 games this season across all competitions.

Madrid’s pressing was greatly improved after the break and they pinned City back at times, showing far more initiative than they offered at the start.

However with Los Blancos in the ascendant, City sucker-punched them, just as Madrid did to the Premier League leaders in the first half.

De Bruyne slammed the visitors level with a shot from the same range as Vinicius’ opener at the same end, hammering the ball low past Courtois.

Ederson palmed away a Benzema header and a vicious Aurelien Tchouameni effort in the final stages but, as Guardiola predicted before the game, the tie will be decided in Manchester.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said his side deserved to beat City but he was still pleased with their performance.

“We competed, we fought, I think we deserved to win. It was a good match and we head to the second leg with a good feeling. The result doesn’t reward us for what we did on the pitch, but this tie will be close until the last minute,” he told Movistar Plus.

“They had more possession in the first 30 minutes, but that didn’t worry us, because we were well positioned at the back and waited to make an effective transition.

“In the second half, we managed to come out from the back better... and we should have won, but the sensations are good.”

The second leg takes place on May 17, with the winners facing Inter Milan or AC Milan in the final. AFP, REUTERS

MADRID - Kevin de Bruyne’s brilliant drive earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in a gripping Champions League semi-final first-leg battle on Tuesday.

The Belgian slammed Pep Guardiola’s visitors level after Vinicius Junior opened the scoring for the reigning champions from distance in similarly spectacular fashion.

After the game, Jack Grealish said City are confident of finishing the job against Real Madrid at home.

“At the Etihad at the moment we feel unstoppable,” he told BT Sport. “We came here tonight to try and win, but I think it shows our character to go a goal down and come back. In the end it was a fair result.”

City boss Guardiola is also looking forward to the return leg at home.

“When we were better, they scored. When they were better, we scored,” he said.

“Tight game, Bernabeu, a semi-final always is difficult; 1-1 and we have a final next Wednesday at home with our people.” 

Turning his attention to Real, he added: “They are so demanding. They are so good, (they have) the experience, the quality.

“Now they travel to Manchester and we are going to see what we can do better.

“When you play these type of games it’s like a playoff. The second (game) you learn a lot from the first and hopefully we can learn and attack and defend better.”

Madrid managed to completely shackle lethal striker Erling Haaland but de Bruyne’s powerful effort left the tie on a knife edge ahead of the second leg in Manchester next week.

The record 14-time winners knocked City out at the same stage last season despite being outplayed in both games, and took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu against the run of play.

However, when Madrid found their stride in the second half, City – still chasing their first Champions League trophy – hit back through de Bruyne.

Guardiola selected Kyle Walker at right-back to combat the pacy threat of Madrid winger Vinicius, while Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti opted for Toni Kroos at the base of midfield.

Rodrygo, who struck two late goals as a substitute last season against City to pave Madrid’s passage into the final, started after his Copa del Rey heroics on Saturday.

The visitors controlled much of the first half, with nearly 70 per cent possession, but went in trailing at the break.

Thibaut Courtois fielded an early barrage of shots from de Bruyne, Rodri and Haaland, as City dominated and Madrid sat back, soaking up the pressure.

Guardiola’s side were issued a warning when Vinicius won the ball high up the pitch and crossed for Karim Benzema but Ruben Dias made a superb interception.

It was Madrid’s only attack of note after half an hour and even though City were peppering Courtois, it was the closest either side came, until Vinicius struck.

Madrid took the lead through a lethal counter-attack, with Eduardo Camavinga, playing at left-back, surging past Bernardo Silva, tearing into space and feeding Vinicius.

The Brazilian arrowed a strike into the top left corner from almost 25 metres, past Ederson’s helpless dive. It was Madrid’s only shot in the first half, but the game’s most effective one.