Manchester City cast off the demons of 2022 to beat Real Madrid 4-0 in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal at the Etihad on Wednesday night in a dominant display by the Premier League leaders.
Level at 1-1 following the first leg in Madrid, Bernardo Silva netted a pair of goals in the opening 45 minutes to give the hosts breathing room at half-time, while Eder Militao’s own goal and a tidy finish by Julian Alvarez before full-time gave City a 5-1 aggregate win to set up a June 10 final showdown with Inter Milan in Istanbul.
It was all City from the outset with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois making a pair of stellar saves to keep out a pair of Erling Haaland headers in the early-going and Kevin De Bruyne flashing a free kick from distance just wide of the near post.
The relentless pressure from Pep Guardiola’s side finally paid off in the 23rd minute when De Bruyne played a defence-splitting pass to Sliva, who cut onto his left foot and powered a shot past Courtois.
Fifteen minutes later, Silva had his second. This time the Portugal international placed a lovely, looping header past Courtois after the rebound from Ilkay Gundogan’s close-range strike set up perfectly for him.
Madrid — 14-times European champions — barely had a sniff of the ball, much less the City goal, throughout the entirety of the first half as the home team took a two-goal aggregate lead to the break.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team came out looking sharper in the second half but were still unable to fashion any quality chances, with City having the best look in the 73rd minute only for Courtois to once again deny Haaland from close range.
The decisive goal came soon after, though, when De Bruyne’s floated cross into the Madrid area glanced off Manuel Akanji and then Militao into the back of the net to send the Etihad crowd into delirium.
Argentina World Cup winner Alvarez added City’s fourth after coming on for Haaland as a late substitute and Guardiola and his team took their time celebrating in front of the home support following the final whistle.
City — losers to Madrid in dramatic fashion in last year’s UCL semis — will now advance to the final for only the second time under Guardiola, whose side fell 1-0 to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in 2021.
There was an air of expectancy and tension before kickoff inside City’s fortress, even more so as the clash was billed as a de-facto final with Inter, in their first final for 13 years despite a mediocre Serie A season, awaiting the winners.
The lineups were almost identical to the sizzling 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu last week, the only change being in Real’s rearguard with Militao in for Antonio Rudiger.
Just as in the Spanish capital, City took an early stranglehold with Real barely stringing two passes together and finding it almost impossible to escape their own half and after City had a three-goal lead any thoughts of a repeat of last year’s miraculous turnaround when Real won 6-5 on aggregate were gone.
With their place in the Istanbul showpiece secured, City can win their fifth Premier League title in six seasons this weekend and they also have an FA Cup final to look forward to.