Real Madrid hand Manchester City early Champions League exit

Manchester City's Demi Stokes and Real Madrid's Esther Gonzalez.
Real Madrid's Esther Gonzalez in action with Manchester City's Demi Stokes during the UEFA Women's Champions League match at Academy Stadium, Manchester. (Photo by Zac Goodwin)

Manchester City have tumbled out of the Champions League after falling to defeat at the hands of Real Madrid, despite having home advantage in the second leg.

Starting XI’s

Manchester City: Benameur-Taieb, Morgan, Houghton (c), Greenwood, Stokes, Coombs, Weir, Losada (Stanway ’69), Raso (Beckie ’69), Hemp, Shaw (White ’45).

Real Madrid: Misa, Robles, Ivana, Peter, Lucia Rodriguez, Athenea, Kaci, Teresa, Zornoza (Carmona ’75), Esther (Møller ’91), Nahikari (Asllani ’86).

How it went

As with the first leg, the game was full of action from the first whistle. An early chance for Hayley Raso flashed just past the post before the visitors made a quick break putting pressure on City’s stand-in goalkeeper Karima Benameur-Taieb. The first half brought more end to end action as chances at each end put both oppositions under relentless pressure.

At times both sides seemed to have the edge until Real Madrid had a goal ruled out for offside after Nahikari Garcia slotted the ball past the City keeper. Just five minutes before the end of the first half, Bunny Shaw almost put the hosts into the lead. Yet, her header sailed over and the offside flag was eventually raised.

A fingertip save from Benameur-Taieb in the 43rd minute kept the game all square. The resulting scuffle however finally saw Gareth Taylor’s side concede from a long-range shot via Claudia Zornoza Sanchez.

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City continued to push in the second half

With ground to make up in the second half, City enjoyed an explosive start as Caroline Weir had a shot saved before Ellen White narrowly missed a Lauren Hemp cross. With increased service to her, City’s number 15 began to impact the game far more than she had in the first half.

Despite enjoying the majority of the possession at times, Madrid’s press seemed too much for their hosts to handle. More chances came for Gareth Taylor’s side as their attack relentlessly pushed but everything that City’s attack through at Real Madrid was quickly dealt with. A free-kick for the visitors almost saw their lead doubled, however, the chance flew harmlessly past the City goal.

A break from City almost saw Raso bring the game back level. Following the run of the game though, her shot ricocheted off the crossbar for a goal kick.

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With Madrid’s press not letting up, the Spanish side looked likely to increase their lead on numerous occasions. A final chance for Man City saw an impressive chance created by Lauren Hemp, which was somehow cleared from the goal line just as it appeared to have gone in.

The match ended with the hosts bowing out of the Champion’s League. Despite some excellent chances, Real Madrid’s defence proved too much for the Sky Blues to handle.

The defeat marks the fourth time in as many seasons that Manchester City have fallen foul to Spanish opponents in the Champions League.

Post match thoughts

Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor expressed his disappointment in his team’s early exit. “Especially in the first half, we were off the pace I thought”.

Taylor praised his side, however, for their display in the second half. He also confirmed that his side had not had any preseason and that the early games had perhaps caught them too early.

“I think it was a difficult format this qualification,” said Taylor. Though, he did go on to praise the fan turnout. “I think the support tonight was great, it was great to have the crowd behind us.”

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As with the first game, Taylor seemed unhappy with the standard of the refereeing over the two legs. Citing Jill Scott’s disallowed goal from the first leg, Taylor explained that he hadn’t seen the disallowed goal but that his side had a perfectly good goal disallowed.

Taylor went on to insist that his side would now focus their efforts on the domestic leagues.

“We wanted to be in this competition but we were put into a tough qualification process where we drew out the only seeded team.”

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