Valverde ensures Real Madrid and Man City share spoils on night to remember at Bernabéu

Both Real Madrid and Manchester City showed their character and class during a six-goal thriller which leaves the quarter-final tie wide open

Real Madrid 3 Manchester City 3

Real Madrid produced another of those implausible European comebacks but this time so did Manchester City. So then Madrid went and did it again. The last two European champions gave us another wild night to remember.

Carlo Ancelotti had called for courage and personality and there was plenty of that, plenty of talent too, and six goals at the Santiago Bernabéu to set up what should be a superb second leg at the Etihad next week. If it is half as good as this it will be fun; it will also be on edge to the very end.

One up after 95 seconds through Bernardo Silva, 2-1 down to two goals in 114 seconds from Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo, Manchester City came back to lead with two wonderful strikes in four second-half minutes, Phil Foden and Josep Gvardiol belting the ball into the net to leave Pep Guardiola dancing on the touchline.

And then just when it seemed a comeback of their own was complete, Madrid did it again, Fede Valverde rounding off a noisy, tense and emotional night with a belting volley that left everyone exhausted but more or less where they already were.


It had been a long night and City could not have wished for a better start. They hadn’t even been out there two minutes when they had earned themselves a one-goal advantage.

Feet out, studs out, Aurélien Tchouameni sent Jack Grealish to the floor as he was dashing towards the Madrid area, earning a yellow card after just 38 seconds that means he will miss the second leg.

The free-kick was to the left of the area, 20 yards out. From there, faced by a wall made up only of Vinícius Júnior, and with Andriy Lunin looking more towards a cross, Silva saw an opportunity. He hit the ball hard and low towards the near post instead and although the Ukrainian keeper, scrambling back, managed to get a hand to it, he could only divert it into the top of the net.

Only 95 seconds had passed and City were in control, or so it goes. Just three minutes later, Erling Haaland received inside the area, turned and got off a shot, which was blocked by a combination of Lunin’s hand and the post.

Madrid were wobbling, trying to work out what had hit them; absurd though it sounds, especially so early, it felt like they were in big trouble, already: unable to get to the ball, watching as their opponents played around them.

Only when Madrid are most in trouble tends to be when opponents are; if ever there was a team that can be turn everything on its head in a flash, if ever there was a stadium that can suddenly catch fire, it is the Bernabéu. City know that only too well of course, but it’s one thing to know it, another to be able to stop it – and almost as soon as they had led, Madrid did.

Almost as soon? Sooner. It came, as it so often does, from nowhere. From two deflections, in fact, as if this was another act of destiny. Eduardo Camavinga carried the ball inside from the left and took a shot from outside the area. It was tame and not really going anywhere but at least it was a reminder that Madrid were playing too, or so it seemed. The ball, though, hit Rúben Dias, changed direction and spun past Stefan Ortega and into the net, this place exploding.

Then, suddenly, they were ahead. Lunin gathered a Grealish cross, rolled the ball to the left, Vinícius span and released Rodrygo and he raced into the City area where his shot hit Manuel Akanji’s heel, leaving Ortega helplessly watching another ball roll into his net. 114 seconds were all it had taken to wipe City out.

And they really did seem to be out of it at this point, as if flawed by the inevitability. Madrid even might have felt they should have killed them off. Haaland had disappeared somewhere in Toni Rüdiger’s orbit and there was a sluggish imprecision to Guardiola’s team, a lack of courage or options.

A neat exchange between Grealish, Rodri and Foden ended with Tchouameni making a block but otherwise there was no way through. There were also unusually long periods where they didn’t have the ball at all.

At the other end, by contrast, every time Madrid set off, the space seemed vast. Too often those runs began with City giving the ball away, the vulnerability spotted and seized upon. Even, at times, when Rodri and Silva had possession.

Akanji was struggling to handle Rodrygo’s movement. Two robberies led to him and his fellow Brazilian Vinícius escaping and firing off shots that were saved. More followed early in the second half, Jude Bellingham pulling one shot wide and Vinícius putting another over.

This was shifting, though. Rodri headed over, Foden shot into the arms of Lunin and the Ukrainian then pushed away Silva’s effort as City worked their way back in. Bit by bit they turned the screw. Madrid were dropping deeper, struggling to get a grip.

City were City again, and a long period of possession saw John Stones and Silva work a little space on the edge of the area for Foden, who turned and bent a wonderful shot into the top corner. Then, just three minutes after that Gvardiol struck a superb shot into the net.

Now it was Madrid were seemed to be out, on the canvass, but, well, you know what comes next. On as a sub, Luka Modric carried the ball forward and Rodrygo’s lovely clipped cross was met by Valverde, thumping a volley into the bottom corner, this place exploding once more.

There were ten minutes left but there were no more goals. Not this week, anyway. And so to Manchester for more.