Patrick Kelechi


Daily Courier – A pulsating night of classic UEFA Champions League football, witnessed a remarkable 3-1 comeback win for Real Madrid against Manchester City to set up a final with Liverpool for the 2021/2022 season.

The sensational Karim Benzema netted an extra-time penalty to complete the comeback sparked into life by a Rodrygo brace that stunned the English champions and the football world following the charged semi-final.

Pep Guardiola’s team appeared to be on their way to a second consecutive final when Riyad Mahrez put them ahead in the 73rd minute at Santiago Bernabeu, but comeback champions, Real Madrid, sealed their spot in Paris with a 6-5 aggregate victory.

Rodrygo, a substitute, was their motivation, as he became the first player in Champions League knockout history to score twice in the 90th minute to force extra time. And five minutes into extra time, Benzema completed a remarkable turnaround for Carlo Ancelotti’s LaLiga champions.

In the first half, City posed the larger threat, with Thibaut Courtois saving well from Bernardo Silva before stopping Phil Foden minutes before the break.

Vinicius Junior was unable to bury Dani Carvajal’s cross at the far post, which could have given Madrid the lead early in the second half. City, on the other hand, had showed more control and took the lead when Mahrez arrowed a magnificent first-time finish past Courtois.

Jack Grealish surged through to double that lead only to see the ball cleared off the line before Courtois denied the £100 million man moments later. Yet, City’s progress appeared secure, and Madrid appeared to be down and out.

But, Real remained resolute and pressed on before Rodrygo snuck in to head home Benzema’s square pass to enkindle belief in the impossible once more. He then gave their home crowd a cause to let loose with wild celebrations when he buried a fantastic header into the top-left corner 91 seconds later.

After Benzema was fouled in the box by Ruben Dias, the most miraculous of turnarounds was completed when the Frenchman calmly sent Ederson the wrong way from 12 yards.

Unfortunately for Pep Guardiola’s side, Fernandinho wasted a great chance to poke in an equaliser later as Madrid lined up a meeting with Liverpool on May 28.

Carlo Ancelotti’s charges advanced from only the third Champions League semi-final in which both legs saw 10 or more goals. Meanwhile, the city must regroup and re-enter the fray. They have four Premier League games left, and Liverpool is on their tail.