Just Two Minutes To Victory, And Then The Unthinkable – How Real Madrid’s Win Against Manchester City Defied All Logic

Just Two Minutes To Victory, And Then The Unthinkable – How Real Madrid’s Win Against Manchester City Defied All Logic

“If you had, one shot, one opportunity, to seize….. would you capture it, or let it slip?”, we’ve all heard the song ‘Lose Yourself’ by American rapper Eminem, yet the essence of that entire song, when it comes to talking about a ‘moment’ just boils down to the question the Detroit born hip-hop artist asks at the end of the introductory statement, ‘would you capture it, or let it slip?’

Would Man City capture it? They led the game on aggregate from 0:01 on the clock after kickoff and the game from 72:33 when Portuguese technician Bernardo Silva slid Riyad Mahrez in who unleashed a savage left footed shot that blasted into the Real Madrid net, with the echoes of the strike, heard all around the Bernabeu, and perhaps, all over Madrid.

The parallels are endless, but in the 85th minute in the game at the Bernabeu, Thibaut Courtois had to make a save from a Joao Cancelo shot from outside the box that was venomous and firmly struck, with a slight deflection off Ferland Mendy that the Belgian leapt to his right, outstretched, with all his dexterity to save.

Then in the 86th minute as substitute Jack Grealish broke into space and into the box, Mendy cleared off the line, only just, a narrow margin, as Foden couldn’t turn the rebound in.

Then at 86:25, a deft touch from Courtois saved another goal from going in, this time again from Grealish who left the Real defence beaten for dead and scuffed a left-footed shot towards goal.

At the start of the 89th minute; 89:16, to be precise the scoreline read Real Madrid 0 –  1 Man City (3-5 agg).

And then the unthinkable…

Before you could even catch a breath, at 89:20, a ball into the box from Eduardo Camavinga, saw Benzema beat the offside trap to get to it, only by the tip of his left boot, the finest of margins, and Rodrygo, the substitute who was only on the pitch for twenty odd minutes, nipped in, from nowhere and stole a goal.

It took a few seconds for the television broadcasters to update the score, and the commentator said, ‘Is it too late?’ as the replays flashed on the screen. Surely, Madrid couldn’t do it again?

By the 90:00, the Madridistas inside the Bernabeu celebrated, they were in fine voice throughout the game, even the most fervent City fans would admit that the Madristas, and them bellowing “Madrid” during the game, was an intimidating atmosphere to be present in on the night. “Si se puede” they chanted throughout the game despite being down, “Yes we can”.

Suddenly, the Bernabeu sprang to life again after Rodrygo’s equaliser. They collectively, almost sucked the ball into the City goal. They breathed. You could hear it. They sang. You could hear that too. They danced. You could feel it. They jumped for joy. You could feel that too. They believed. Most importantly, they believed.

Before you could blink an eye-lid, or even comprehend what had happened, the clock showed 90:00 with 6 minutes of time added and then at 90:47 Dani Carvajal beat Jack Grealish on the right flank and hit a hopeful cross into the box.

The clock showed 90:51, and after a slight deflection of Asensio, Rodrygo, who else, who else but Rodryo, perhaps one of the most diminutive players on the pitch, sprung with all his might and headed the ball into the City goal, in slightly off the crossbar.

It was madness. Nothing short of madness. The unthinkable. Resurrected from the dead.

Surreal. Incomprehensible.

And the Bernabeu exploded.

If the echoes of Mahrez’s strike reverberated all over Madrid, Rodrygo’s two goals, shook the whole world.

The kings of Europe. The comeback kings. They did it again. They did it yet again.

They did it against Paris Saint-Germain, they did it against Chelsea, after being under siege throughout both legs in either tie, except the first leg against the Blues at Stamford Bridge. They managed to turn the ties against both the French champions, the holding Champions of Europe and this game, the most inspiring of them all, at home, at the Bernabeu, for the Madridistas, against the champions of England, within lesser than eighty seconds between each of the two Rodygo goals.

You had to see it to believe it.

At the end of normal time plus stoppages as the whistle blew at the Bernabeu, the scoreline read Real Madrid 2 – 1 Manchester City and (5-5 on aggregate).

Perhaps some time to just comprehend all that happened, take a breath, and just digest what had just contrived to occur before your eyes.

As the game began in extra time, Rodrygo passed into the box and Karim Benzema stole a march slightly ahead of City’s captain on the night, Ruben Diaz, and intelligently just got contact on the ball, with the slightest of touches, a millisecond before Diaz’s tackle which brought the Frenchman down, the finest of margins, just like the story of the game, and the referee pointed to the spot and blew for a penalty.

The clock displayed 93 minutes, everything slowed down, the television, the commentary, Ancelotti and the Real bench, Guardiola, the City traveling squad, the breathing of the Bernabeu crowd, and all of space & time, as Karim Benzema prepared to take the penalty.

The clock showed 94:02, and Benzema, ice-cold, and as composed as you would have liked, slotted the ball to his right.

By the time the clock read 94:04, the comeback was complete.

Real Madrid 3 – 1 Manchester City (6-5 on aggregate).

The game progressed and Real held on.

By the end of 120 minutes of play, it was over. Real had overturned another deficit in the most unbelievable of ways. A miracle.

Real Madrid were through to another Champions League final, against all the odds. If Jurgen Klopp’s men were ‘mentality monsters’, Ancelotti’s men were ‘comeback beasts’.

At the end of the 120 minutes of play, as the game came to an end Ancelotti said “No one, no one thought we would play the final, and we’re there,” and as Valverde faced the cameras, he called it “Another mad night”.

But perhaps, Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian who had a tough first season at Real, said it the best.

Courtois’ answer reflected what this game was all about, the desire, the belief, the mindset, everything, with his one word answer to the interviewers as they rushed around him with their cameras, he said it all, just one word, just like one moment, that could change the face of a football game and the world, just one word that summed it all up, he said, “Madrid.”

They ‘captured it’. And City ‘let it slip’.

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