Madrid | Real Madrid will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three years after overcoming Manchester City 1-0 in their semi-final second leg.
Brazilian midfielder Fernando deflected Gareth Bale’s cross into his own net after 20 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu for the only goal of the tie after the first leg ended goalless.
Fernandinho came closest to taking City to their first ever Champions League final when his shot clipped the outside of the post a minute before half-time last night. Real beat Atletico 4-1 after extra-time in Lisbon two years ago to win the competition for a 10th time and will be hoping for a repeat when they face Diego Simeone’s men in Milan on May 28. The hosts were given a huge boost before kick-off as Cristiano Ronaldo made his return after a three-game absence due to a thigh injury. By contrast, City were dealt a massive injury blow inside 10 minutes when captain Vincent Kompany was forced off once more with a muscle problem in an injury-disrupted campaign.
Eliaquim Mangala was forced on to deputise for Kompany, but City’s makeshift defence wasn’t overly troubled despite the presence of Ronaldo and an in-form Bale in the first 45 minutes. Ronaldo was looking to equal his own record of 17 Champions League goals in a season, but sent his first chance well over the bar with a header from Dani Carvajal’s cross.
However, Madrid got the luck they needed to swing the tie in their favour with their next attack as Bale was played in on the right of the City box and his intended cross spooned up off Fernando and into the far corner to leave Joe Hart helpless.
The difference in European pedigree between the clubs couldn’t have been starker as Madrid were playing in their 27th semi-final, whilst City were in the last four for the first time. That inexperience looked to be taking hold as City enjoyed decent spells of first-half possession without troubling the Real defence.