Manchester City fans in Madrid remember 21/22 heartbreak: “I was thinking about my flights to Paris, and then it all went wrong.”
Manchester City fans remember the game last season at the Bernabéu in which Real Madrid staged a dramatic, last-second comeback to knock them out.
Real Madrid host Manchester City in what is a replay of last season’s Champions League semi-final tie. Last season, Pep Guardiola’s team went blow for blow against the self-proclaimed Kings of Europe at the Etihad, winning 4-3, before a dramatic night on Spanish soil.
After almost 75 minutes of another heavyweight clash, Riyad Mahrez hit a near post strike past Courtois to put City two goals ahead on aggregate as the clocked ticked down at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Moments later, Jack Grealish saw a chance cleared off the line and then a Courtois toe poked another shot from the former Villa man just past the post.
As the Bernabéu crowd started to think that their luck had run out, after having come from behind against both PSG and Chelsea in earlier rounds, Rodrygo scored twice in two minutes as the clocked went past 90 minutes to send the game to extra time.
“I was confident we could get a result. And at 90 minutes we had it”
Karim Benzema went down in the box shortly after the referee restarted the game, and he put away the resulting penalty to send Real Madrid through to the final, prompting both feelings of disbelief and heartbreak from the City fans (some of which have already planned for the final) who were so sure of seeing their team into what would have only been their second ever Champions League final.
When asked about the game last year, City fans in Madrid were keen to point out that the pain is still there: “I’ve been a season ticket holder for 45 years. I’ve seen everything”, said one, “I was here last year. We were confident going into the match, to be honest, I was confident we could get a result. And at 90 minutes we had it.”
“Last year we battered Madrid...we were in the final, and then we weren’t.”
“We were 0-1 up”, he continued, “and if Jack [Grealish] had that chance it right at the end we’d have been 0-2 up and the match would have been finished. When it went into injury time I was thinking about how to book my flights to Paris! And then, obviously, it all went wrong, so I was a bit gutted really.”
Another City fan was ready for his team to right the mistakes they made last season: “We want to put right what went wrong last time. We’re better than we were last year and I don’t think that Real Madrid are any better than they were. I’m looking forward to tonight with some confidence. Last year we absolutely battered Madrid at home but only got a goal advantage. We did well in the second leg and we were in the final, and then we weren’t. We’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs but we’re really on the up now.”