Man City hold Real to goalless draw in Champions League semi-final first leg
Lee Gormley | April 26, 2016
Manchester City 0-0 Real Madrid
- Cristiano Ronaldo absent from Real Madrid squad through injury
- David Silva forced off with injury in first-half and replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho
- Opening 45 minutes ends scoreless
- Gareth Bale has second-half penalty appeal waved away
- Two sides play out scoreless first leg at the Etihad
Real held in Manchester
Manchester City held Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid to a scoreless draw in their first-ever Champions League semi-final, with a defensive home outing seeing them secure a 0-0 first leg draw to take to the Bernabeu.
The visiting Spanish giants took to the European clash without reliant marksman Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad after the Portugal international was ruled out through injury, and his absence proved a huge miss as they were unable to clinch an away goal on their travels.
Former Spurs winger Gareth Bale had a penalty appeal waved away in the second-half, while David Silva was forced off the pitch after picking up a knock in a game which failed to live up to its billing as a potential all-action match-up.
City hold strong early on
With the blow of missing Ronaldo from their side, Real were reliant on Welshman Bale on the right flank, but he was being marked very closely by Gael Clichy in the early stages, as the Frenchman stopped an early threat, though Madrid were dominating possession.
The hosts were beginning to press Madrid on the ball and settled into proceedings soon though, with skipper Sergio Ramos being caught in possession in dangerous areas after six minutes, but both Jesus Navas and Kevin De Bruyne were unable to capitalise.
Two minutes later it was the Spanish centre back at fault again, as his poor ball out of the backline was halted by a charging Fernandinho, leading to a chance for Navas to cross, but the delivery was just beyond a lurking Sergio Aguero.
Former Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric was starting to find little pockets of space to attack in the Man City half, but the home rearguard were able to hold strong and thwart any runs for Bale and Karim Benzema from the Croatian’s build-up.
In-form Spanish forward Lucas Vazquez was causing trouble for City at the back as he continued to switch between wings, while Benzema, who was signed for Real by Manuel Pellegrini during his time in Madrid, was unable to reach an attempted Bale cross after 20 minutes and add to his 27 season goals.
Silva suffers injury in Bale tackle
With 23 minutes gone, Pepe was shown a yellow card for taking out De Bruyne just outside right of Real’s penalty area, and the subsequent free-kick from the fouled Belgian was met by captain Vincent Kompany, though he was eventually penalised for a foul on Brazilian midfielder Casemiro.
Los Blancos’ attack were struggling to carve open any clear cut chances without Ronaldo in their line-up, with Benzema and Bale having to drop deep to get on the ball, and the latter Wales international was limited to a long-range effort after half an hour played, which Nicolas Otamendi easily blocked.
Bale was the victim of a late Silva challenge with 37 minutes gone, as the Spanish playmaker received a cautioning for his efforts towards thwarting a potential Real counter attack. The former Valencia player was soon forced out of proceedings with an injury too, with youngster Kelechi Iheanacho replacing him.
French frontman Benzema had entered this European encounter on the back of impressive form in front of goal, but he spurned a decent opportunity before the break, as he sent a wild shot sailing well over Joe Hart’s crossbar from a Pepe lay-off.
The Sky Blues had so far held a strong defensive line with Fernando and Fernandinho having little trouble protecting them in defensive midfield, as Real’s attack failed to shine in what was a cagey semi-final first leg.
Bale penalty appeal
When the clash got back underway, Real had Jese Rodriguez leading their line rather than Benzema, with the Frenchman having seemingly suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury.
With only a couple of minutes gone in the second period, Bale was immediately involved in an appeal for a penalty from Real, after going down in the box under a challenge from Otamendi, but the referee waved away any such attempts.
Pellegrini’s hosts had been defending solidly, albeit against an underwhelming Madrid strikeforce so far, but City almost went behind after 54 minutes when Ramos connected with a Toni Kroos corner, though England stopper Hart reacted swiftly to save his side from conceding a damaging away goal.
Aguero had so far been limited in space and time on the ball, with the Real rearguard also doing well to fend of any threat, and the Argentine attacker was frustrated further when penalised for fouling Marcelo after attempting to beat Keylor Navas.
City frustrating Real
With play having passed the hour mark, Real were dictating the pace, with Man City holding a deep defensive line to counter any threat of a Real bagging their desired away strike, though Zidane’s travelling Galacticos were starting to push harder.
Modric and Bale were dropping deep to find space and pick up the ball, and the latter Croatian sent a long range effort blazing well over the bar on 73 minutes, while his Welsh teammate cut inside on his left foot but his curling strike went wide of Hart’s far right post.
Raheem Sterling was thrust into proceedings for a lacklustre Navas, with the former Liverpool forward having reached double figures for his maiden term in Manchester, and Pellegrini was hoping his £50m starlet would produce a bright spark.
Hart keeps Madrid at bay
There was a sense of anxiety building around the Etihad and the home fans almost witnessed their side go behind after 78 minutes, as Casemiro sent a strong header towards goal for Hart to clear after beating Bacary Sagna to the ball.
Hart was again the City saviour as he denied Pepe from the six-yard box following Bale’s knockdown off a Kroos corner, with the England international number one spreading himself out to halt the Portugal defender’s smashed shot.
Sterling’s proved to be no more effective than Navas on the flank for City, as the hosts held out for a 0-0 draw on home turf, a result which will have frustrated both sides, with the Sky Blues now 7/5 with Coral to overcome Southampton in their next Premier League outing.