Real Madrid seemed like they were out. After two improbable comebacks in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in each of the last two rounds, it seemed like they finally went up against a team too good to complete a Remontada against.
Los Merengues had their fair share of chances but missed them. And it was Riyad Mahrez, the world-class Manchester City right winger, who finished his chance, giving City a 1-0 lead and 5-3 lead on aggregate. Carlo Ancelotti took out Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, which baffled fans. All hope seemed lost as the clock got closer to 90 minutes with City dominating the game.
But Ancelotti also brought in the super sub of all super subs. Mr. Champions League. The man who saved Real Madrid from defeat against Chelsea one round earlier.
It was Rodrygo who struck not once, but twice, for Real Madrid to tie the score at 5-5 on aggregate. And then in extra time, Real Madrid’s superstar Karim Benzema won the penalty, converted the penalty, and watched his team hang on to the 6-5 lead.
Los Blancos are through to the Champions League Final, having completed maybe the greatest comeback in the history of comebacks.
Here are the player ratings for Real Madrid from their 3-1 win over Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu.
GK Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois HAS to win the Lev Yashin. This performance at the Bernabeu sealed it. Rodrygo Goes is the main hero for his brace in the 90th and 91st minutes, but without Courtois’ saves and elite ball security, Real would have never been in a position to come back in the first place His toe-stop on Jack Grealish was a particular highlight.
LB Ferland Mendy
Not everyone on Real Madrid was a standout, though. Ferland Mendy had a poor game, failing to trap the ball and only making backwards passes, as he once again failed to support Vinicius Jr. in a tough matchup. Kyle Walker dominated Vini in the first half before his injury slowed him down. Mendy made a lot of basic errors, but in fairness, he did recover to have a strong extra-time period, fulfilling his defensive duties. His goal-line clearance undid a lot of the wrongs earlier in the game and was a turning point for him.
CB Nacho Fernandez
Nacho Fernandez played out of his mind defensively. Coming into this match, he was a potential weakness for Real Madrid with David Alaba out injured, as he has struggled in several matches this season, being too aggressive or too slow defensively.
He played a perfect game against Manchester City, making vital tackles and always making the right decision. He did not make clumsy mistakes or take unnecessary risks and seemed to reach a new level in the second half when Madrid needed him most. That is how you know he has Madridismo coursing through his veins. He had five clearances and four interceptions. Massive.
CB Eder Militao
Madridistas knew Eder Militao needed to step up after a string of poor performances, including in the first leg at the Etihad. Militao was a bit clumsy to start things off, looking nervy on the ball – not unlike Ferland Mendy – and often taking too much time with his back towards goal.
But by the end of the match, he distinguished himself positively again, showing his usual great form this season with composed defending, smart passing, and plenty of fire for his team. Militao needed this.
RB Dani Carvajal
To me, nobody stepped up more than Dani Carvajal. Not only was he poor in the first leg against Manchester City this season, but he struggled in 2020 when Los Blancos were knocked out by Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champions League Round of 16.
For all of his issues this season, Carvajal turned back the clock on May 4, producing a quality display on both ends of the pitch. He did not make any mistakes defensively in a difficult assignment and covered so much ground. It was a vintage display from the right back, who produced three key passes to tie Vinicius Jr. for the team lead.