Deflected Bale goal defeats Man City, sends Real through to Champions League final
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 4, 2016
Real Madrid 1-0 Manchester City
Real Madrid win 1-0 on aggregate
- Captain Kompany limps off injured early on for Man City
- Bale effort deflects in off Fernando Reges for Real opener
- Offside flag denies Pepe a second goal for hosts
- Fernandinho spurns opening before half-time
- Hart makes second-half saves from Modric and Ronaldo
- Bale set-piece header hits bar
- San Siro set for repeat of 2014 Champions League final
Bale sends Real through?
There will be a repeat of the Champions League final from two years ago, as Real Madrid joined cross-capital rivals Atletico in booking a San Siro date thanks a goal Gareth Bale will claim that sunk Manchester City.
Credited as a Fernando Reges own goal, it proved the difference between Los Blancos and their Etihad opposition with Joe Hart needing to make fines saves to thwart Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo in the second-half.
Manuel Pellegrini’s gamble on the fitness of City skipper Vincent Kompany didn’t pay off with the Belgium international limping off inside the first 10 minutes, and his side seemed simply overawed by the occasion of their first-ever major European semi-final.
Zidane side the Real deal
Real looked the more assured in front of a baying Bernabeu crowd, and had their reward for settling into things midway through the first-half. Dani Carvajal slipped a ball down the right channel for Bale, and his effort across goal deflected into the top corner with the deftest of touches from Fernando Reges.
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos practised his usual dark arts with a hand in the face of a peripheral Sergio Aguero escaping punishment. City’s lethal Argentine hitman was left an isolated, frustrated figure, who had to drop deep in search of the ball with supply severely lacking.
Ramos’ partner in crime Pepe had the ball in the visiting net again before half-time when getting on the end of a deep Toni Kroos free-kick, but a rightly raised offside flag ruled out a second Los Blancos goal.
Fernandinho spurned the best opening Man City made just before the interval, firing wide with a glimmer of the Real goal when found by Kevin De Bruyne. That, and a half-chance from long-range for Sergio Aguero late on were all the visiting team really created.
Similar struggles for City in second-half
Rampaging Real full back Carvajal got in-behind City down the right with alarming regularity, almost picking out Ronaldo shortly after the restart. Even the Portugal superstar is human, however, as he subsequently miscued when found by a sumptuous crossfield ball from Bale.
With Zinedine Zidane’s side in full control, Jese Rodriguez lashed over from an angle, before Hart was forced into a fine, instinctive stop that denied Modric. Bale’s ball over the top found his old Tottenham teammate, and a better first-touch would surely have resulted in a second Madrid goal.
Ronaldo also saw himself thwarted twice by the Man City and England number one, first with a header when Carvajal stood up a cross to the back post. Bale then flicked his own aerial effort from a corner against the crossbar.
The City goal led a charmed life, but this side coached by charming Chilean Pellegrini were anything but in this tie. No visiting side has scored at the Bernabeu in the Champions League this term, and that continental campaign long clean sheet was kept intact here.
Madrid men to meet in Milan final
Even the introduction of Raheem Sterling and Kelechi Iheanacho to proceedings had little to no impact. Aguero’s dipping effort from distance just didn’t lower its trajectory enough towards the end, though had Keylor Navas in the home goal worried.
And so another European adventure fizzles out for Man City. Next term they shall come again under new management in Pep Guardiola, yet the Catalan coach never cleared this penultimate hurdle with Bayern Munich.
We can expect an intense Madrid derby with the city’s passionate football fans descending on Milan. Atleti boss Diego Simeone spent time with Inter, and Zidane will be hoping that isn’t an omen that allows cross-capital rivals to avenge that 4-1 extra time loss from 2014.
Real are rated odds-on 4/6 favourites with Coral to add an 11th European Cup crown to their main trophy successes, but it is tenacious underdogs Atletico who may appeal most to neutrals at 6/5.