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Madrid Defeats Manchester City 1-0 to Reach Champions League final - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Real Madrid beat Manchester city with a convincing 1-0 victory on Wednesday to line up a Champions League final against city rival Atletico Madrid, in a repeat of the 2014 Champions League final.

Manchester City’s hopes of a maiden title were crushed after Gareth Bale’s deflected effort secured a 1-0 victory in the second leg of the semifinal by a superb shot by Gareth Bale from a tight angle that deflected off defender Fernando in the 20th minute and was marked down as an own goal.

“The players deserve this,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who has the chance to crown his first season as coach with club football’s most coveted prize.

“Everyone worked hard and that’s why we’re in the final. I’m delighted for what has happened. The final will be perfectly even, but now we’re going to enjoy this, it’s an important day.” Real Madrid will be trying to win its 11th Champions League title in the all-Spanish showdown in Milan on May 28, a rematch of the 2014 final — when it beat Atletico 4-1 after extra time.

“We will give everything in our souls in another final,” Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. “We managed to stay united and soak up the pressure to try and pull it off. We’ve eliminated a huge team in City. It has taken a lot to get to the final, but we deserve it.”

The City’s performance in Wednesday’s game was considered the best ever participation in the Champions League, though it was outclassed on the night and never really looked like turning the game around. The wealthy English club hadn’t succeeded in making it past the round of 16 until this season’s campaign.

Atletico eliminated five-time champion Bayern Munich in the other semifinal on Tuesday.

After failing to win in Manchester, where Madrid played without Cristiano Ronaldo because of an injury, Manuel Pellegrini’s City faced a difficult task at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The hosts had a perfect record in this season’s competition, winning all six home games and outscoring opponents 19-0.

Madrid pushed forward from the start and it didn’t take long before it opened the scoring after a perfect pass by Dani Carvajal to Bale into the area.

The Wales forward turned and sent a high shot that struck the far post before going in, with the ball deflecting just enough off Fernando to curl toward the goal.

Bale, who has scored four goals in the last five games, also hit the woodwork with a header in the 63rd.

Madrid had a goal disallowed because defender Pepe was offside in the 36th, and Ronaldo wasted a few good opportunities to put the game out of reach. The Portugal forward remains a goal shy of matching his own record of 17 goals in a single edition of the tournament.

An away goal would have turned things City’s way, and the English club almost got it when Fernandinho’s low shot from inside the area grazed the near post in the 44th.

City tried to take control in the second half, but Madrid still that had the best opportunities.

“I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game,” Pellegrini said.

The hosts had incredible chance to add to the lead in the 52nd, when Luka Modric found himself unmarked in front of the goal, but his shot was parried by City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

“We just did not have that little bit more,” Hart said. “We could easily be in the final, but they managed the game well. They got a very lucky goal, but it is what it is.”

City’s only clear chance after halftime came from a long-range shot by Sergio Aguero in the 89th, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

City lost Captain Vincent Kompany with an apparent muscle injury less than 10 minutes into the match, the latest injury to plague the defender this season.

The Premier League side was missing playmaker David Silva, but midfielder Yaya Toure recovered from a muscle injury and was in the starting lineup.

Madrid – boosted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to fitness- was without France striker Karim Benzema and Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro, also because of injuries.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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