Real Madrid turned another Champions League final into a cross-town derby on Wednesday, beating Manchester City a day after Atletico Madrid had sealed its place in the decider for European football’s biggest prize.
A convincing 1-0 victory over City at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium means that Real will face Atletico on May 28 in a rematch of the 2014 final that it won in extra time.
Real Madrid will be trying to win its 11th Champions League title in the all-Spanish showdown in Milan. Atletico, which eliminated five-time champion Bayern Munich on Tuesday, will be trying to avenge the 4-1 loss from two years ago as it bids for its first title.
“We will give everything in our souls in another final,” Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. “We managed to stay united and soak up the pressure to try and pull it off. We’ve eliminated a huge team in City. It has taken a lot to get to the final but we deserve it.”
The second leg of the semifinal was decided by a superb shot by Gareth Bale from a tight angle that deflected off defender Fernando in the 20th minute and was marked down as an own goal. Madrid advanced with a 1-0 aggregate win after a scoreless first-leg draw in England last week.
“We suffered, as expected, but in the end we were able to reach the final and that’s the most important thing,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We have to enjoy this moment. We got the job done.”
Wednesday’s win ended City’s best ever participation in the Champions League, though it was outclassed on the night and never really looked like turning the game around. The wealthy English club had not made it past the round of 16 until this season’s campaign.
“I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game,” City coach Manuel Pellegrini said. “We didn’t deserve to lose, Madrid was lucky with its goal, when the ball was deflected. I don’t think any of the teams deserved to win. There was a lot of work by both sides in the two games, but not a lot of creativity.”
After failing to win in Manchester, where Madrid played without Cristiano Ronaldo because of an injury, City faced a difficult task at the Bernabeu. The hosts had a perfect record in this season’s competition, winning all six home games and outscoring opponents 19-0.
“We are happy because we are in the final and it is special,” said Ronaldo, who returned to action after missing the last three games. “One-nil is a close result but we were the better side.”
Madrid pushed forward from the start and it didn’t take long before it opened the scoring after a perfect pass by Dani Carvajal to Bale into the area.
The Wales forward turned and sent a high shot that struck the far post before going in, with the ball deflecting just enough off Fernando to curl towards the goal.
Bale, who has scored four goals in the last five games, also hit the woodwork with a header in the 63rd.
Madrid had a goal disallowed because defender Pepe was offside in the 36th, and Ronaldo squandered a few good opportunities to put the game out of reach. The Portugal forward remains a goal shy of matching his own record of 17 goals in a single edition of the tournament.
An away goal would have turned things City’s way, and the English club almost got it when Fernandinho’s low shot from inside the area grazed the near post in the 44th.
City tried to take control in the second half, but Madrid still that had the best opportunities.
The hosts had incredible chance to add to the lead in the 52nd, when Luka Modric found himself unmarked in front of the goal but his shot was parried by City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
“We just did not have that little bit more,” Hart said. “We could easily be in the final, but they managed the game well. They got a very lucky goal, but it is what it is.”
City’s only clear chance after half time came from a long-range shot by Sergio Aguero in the 89th, but it sailed just over the crossbar.
City lost captain Vincent Kompany with an apparent muscle injury less than 10 minutes into the match, the latest injury to plague the defender this season.
“It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence,” said Pellegrini, who will be replaced by Bayern’s current coach Pep Guardiola next season. “We had problems creating, same as Real Madrid.”