Real Madrid set up another all-Spanish Champions League final with neighbours Atletico after they defeated Manchester City 1-0 on Wednesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo was back in the Madrid XI for the first time since April 20, having fully recovered from a hamstring strain, while City made eight changes to the side that lost 4-2 to Southampton at the weekend, which included the return of Yaya Toure.
City needed to score against a Madrid team who hadn’t conceded a goal at home in this season’s Champions League, and their task was made all the more difficult when captain Kompany limped off inside the first 10 minutes after he broke down during a pass in the centre-circle.
Ronaldo wasn’t particularly involved in the first half, but two chances nonetheless fell his way as Dani Carvajal pushed up down the right and whipped a cross onto the No 7’s head, near the penalty spot in City’s box, but he couldn’t keep his effort down, before the Portuguese blazed over the bar from just inside the area.
Instead, it was left to Bale, who capitalised on poor defending from City as Carvajal freely slipped the Welshman in behind down the right of their area, and the No 11 finished off with a powerful strike into the top-left corner of Joe Hart’s net, albeit helped in by a deflection off Fernando.
Madrid then thought they had gone 2-0 up through Pepe, who scrambled Toni Kroos’ inswinging free kick home, but the centre-back was rightly adjudged offside, yet City should’ve equalised when Kevin de Bruyne was found via the switch down the left, and the Belgian quickly laid off Fernandinho, who turned his marker before smashing a low drive onto Navas’ left-hand post.
Unfortunately for the spectators expecting a similarly-feisty second half to the one witnessed in Bavaria a day before, City’s disappointing lack of urgency allowed Madrid to cruise through the latter 45 minutes, Ronaldo kicking things off a second time when he squeezed between City’s centre-backs to take Bale’s long ball down, but he snatched at his finish.
Modric then couldn’t quite believe his luck as he was completely onside in the City box when a through ball squirmed his way, but the midfielder’s half-hearted finish was parried away from point-blank range for a corner by Hart.
The Englishman somehow kept the visitors in the game for as long as its duration as he got his body behind Ronaldo’s angled strike from the right, although he could do little about Bale’s header from another corner, which clipped the crossbar.
Madrid took a couple of needless risks as the game wore thinner, Ronaldo clearly offside when he met a cross at the back post but unceremoniously slam-dunked the ball into the back of the net and was lucky to have been flagged offside beforehand, before Lucas Vazquez flew into Sterling’s shin and was even more fortunate to have only seen yellow.
Zinedine Zidane made the late decision to take off Modric, who had pulled the strings in the middle of the park all game, and his call almost backfired as Sergio Aguero thundered a shot towards Navas, which ultimately landed on the roof of the goalkeeper’s net. That was to be the Premier League side’s fourth and final attempt, none of which hit the target.
However, Navas – while showing superb anticipation to leave his area, win a 50-50 with Sergio Ramos and Raheem Sterling and then head the ball out for a throw – landed on the deck awkwardly, clutching his ankle, to possibly leave Madrid without a shot-stopper for the entirety of injury time as Zidane had used up all of his substitutions.
Nonetheless, the hosts werent to rue James Rodriguez’s missed one-on-one at the death as they will now prepare for the showpiece in Milan on May 28.
Real Madrid 1-0 Manchester City (1-0 agg.)
Fernando og 20
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco (James 68); Bale, Jese (Vazquez 56), Ronaldo
Manchester City: Hart; Sagna, Kompany (Mangala 9), Otamendi, Clichy; Fernando, Fernandinho; Navas (Iheanacho 69), Toure (Sterling 61), De Bruyne; Aguero
Referee: Skomina [SLO]