A Gabriel Jesus header and cool penalty from Kevin De Bruyne sealed a thrilling 2-1 comeback win for Manchester City at Real Madrid, who had captain Sergio Ramos sent off in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Isco had put the hosts ahead at the Bernabeu on 60 minutes but Pep Guardiola was rewarded for his surprise selections and set-up when Jesus nodded in De Bruyne’s cross (78) and the Belgian ended City’s penalty woes by converting his spot-kick seven minutes from time.
Real Madrid’s misery was compounded moments later when Ramos was shown a straight red card for chopping down Jesus on the edge of the box as the City striker looked set to make it three and it’s advantage City ahead of the second leg at the Etihad on Tuesday, March 17.
There was bad news for City in the first half, though, when key defender Aymeric Laporte limped off with an injury, having only just returned to the first-team fold after a long-term knee problem, but that was the only disappointment on what was a historic night for Guardiola and his side.
Jesus had plenty of defensive work to do in the opening stages as Dani Carvajal got forward, but he was still a threat at the other end of the pitch as City created the first clear cut opportunity of the game after 20 minutes. De Bruyne played Jesus in behind the Real defence and the Brazilian cut inside onto his right foot before unleashing a shot that was pushed away by Thibaut Courtois.
For the most part, Guardiola’s tactics were nullifying Real, but they were given a huge scare just before the half-hour mark.
Ferland Mendy’s cross was powerfully headed towards the bottom corner by Karim Benzema and Ederson produced a superb save to push the ball out to the edge of the six-yard box. Vinicius Junior appeared well placed to latch onto the rebound, but the 19-year-old slipped as he attempted to tap the ball home from close range.
Despite the setback, it was the visitors who came close to an opener before the break as Courtois made a mess of a De Bruyne corner in first-half stoppage time before a combination of Ramos, Casemiro and Federico Valverde cleared Jesus’ shot off the line.