Manchester City defeated Real Madrid 2-1 to advance into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), thanks to Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus who took advantage of defensive mistakes from Raphael Varane.
It was a return to the premier football competition following about 163 days of suspension due to novel coronavirus pandemic, and a sharp City attack made it count against Madrid’s rusty defence that was without the suspended Sergio Ramos, their captain and defensive leader.
Man City have now advanced to the quarter-finals for a third successive season and will look to better their semi-final record of 2015/16 season as they remain favourites to win this season’s competition.
The Blue side of Manchester, with a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid, forced the 13-time UCL champions at the back and were rewarded with a gift-wrapped chance which was converted by Sterling in the ninth minute following a Varane’s mistake.
Madrid equalised on 28 minutes through Karim Benzema, their talismanic striker, who guided a powerful header beyond Ederson from Rodrygo’s inch-perfect cross to raise hopes of a miracle.
While Zinedine Zidane’s side further improved in the second period, forcing City at the back, Pep Guardiola’s men pounced on another moment of error, again from Varane.
Manchester City will now play Olympic Lyonnais, who qualified at the expense of Juventus, in a one-legged quarter-final encounter on August 15, at the Jose Avelade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals in Juventus’ 2-1 win over Olympic Lyonnais but it was not enough as the Turin giants crashed out of the UCL on away goals rule following a Memphis Depay penalty.
Needing to win with at least two goals to qualify due to a 0-1 loss in the first leg, Juventus got the worst possible start by conceding a penalty in the 12th minute which was converted by Depay, a former Manchester United player.
The Italian giants were mostly sluggish and lacked ideas but were also gifted a penalty for handball that was converted by Ronaldo two minutes before halftime.
Maurizio Sarri’s team continued to look like the side that had won only two of the last eight matches coming into this crucial encounter and Ronaldo, once again, had to do it all alone to prove why he is the highest goalscorer in the competition.
The 35-year-old collected the ball from over 25-yards out, shifted onto his left foot and thundered in a strike that the goalkeeper could only push into the net.
It was the Portuguese’s record-extending 130th strike in the UCL, which was however not enough for Juventus who have not won the UCL since 1996, continuing a 24-year drought for the Italian side that recently won the Serie A for the 9th consecutive year.