Manchester City have even more heartbreak in the Champions League after Real Madrid pulled off the most amazing of a growing list of incredible comebacks.
ep Guardiola’s side were moments from booking a second consecutive final and setting up an all-English spectacle in Paris against rivals Liverpool when Real caught them with a stunning smash.
After Riyad Mahrez’s 73rd-minute strike in a tense semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu, City led 1-0 that night and 5-3 on aggregate when Brazilian Rodrygo scored a brace with 90 minutes remaining.
That led to an epic tie going into extra time and City never recovered from the shock, conceding again shortly after as Ruben Dias brought down Karim Benzema and the prolific Frenchman advanced to convert the resulting penalty.
It was another narrow miss for City and Guardiola after last year’s second place finish, while 13-time champions Real built even more mystique after coming back against Paris St Germain and Chelsea in the previous rounds.
“We were close,” said Guardiola, who is waiting to add to the two Champions League triumphs he enjoyed as Barcelona manager in 2009 and 2011. “It’s tough for us, we can’t deny that.
“We came so close to reaching the Champions League final.
“We didn’t play well in the first half. We didn’t find our match, but that’s normal in this competition.
“The second half was much better. We were in control after the goal, we found our game, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish close up.”
Mahrez’s shot gave City a two-goal advantage for the fourth time in the tie, but like in the classic opener last week at the Etihad Stadium, they missed chances to score even more.
They were unlucky this time as substitute Jack Grealish cleared a Ferland Mendy shot off the line with three minutes left.
The loss and its manner will be a huge blow to a side with such high expectations but they will need to recover quickly ahead of a hard-hitting Premier League game against Newcastle on Sunday.
City top the table by just a point over Liverpool ahead of both sides’ 35th game this weekend.
“We need time now, a day or two, but we will get up,” said Guardiola. “We must do it.”
Real’s win set the stage for a repeat of a final that had previously been played twice. Liverpool also defeated the Spanish giants in Paris in 1981, but Real triumphed in Kyiv as they celebrated their record 13th triumph four years ago.
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge of Liverpool neighbors Everton a year ago, has now reached a record five finals.
Looking back on his side’s amazing recent recovery, the Italian said: “The game was close to the end but we managed to find the last bit of energy we had.
“I can’t say we’re used to that kind of life, but what happened here happened against Chelsea and also against Paris.
“If you have to say why, it’s the history of this club that helps us carry on when it seems we’re gone.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/champions-league/it-is-tough-for-us-we-cannot-deny-that-we-were-close-pep-guadiola-in-shock-after-defeat-to-real-madrid-41616404.html “It’s tough for us, we can’t deny it… we came close” – Pep Guadiola shocked after Real Madrid defeat