Manchester City were two goals up on three occasions as they beat record winners Real Madrid 4-3 in a Champions League semi-final first leg thriller on Tuesday which leaves the tie wide open.
Karim Benzema kept Real’s chances intact as the France striker scored a brace in his 600th game for the Spanish league leaders for a tournament-leading tally of 14.
Last year’s finalists City led 2-0 after 11 minutes as Kevin de Bruyne nodded home in the second minute and then set up Gabriel Jesus.
Benzema got Real back into the game in the 33rd, Phil Foden made it 3-1 in the 53rd, Real to hit back again two minutes later from Vinicius Junior, and Benzema’s second from an 82nd-minute penalty then left Real well-positioned after Bernardo Silva’s fourth for City.
The return leg is next week Wednesday in Madrid where City’s Pep Guardiola is bidding to become the first manager to oust Real three times in the elite event, having done so with Barcelona in the 2011 semis and with City in the 2020 last 16.
“It was a great game. End to end. We started really well and could have killed them off. In these games, we need to take more chances,” Foden told BT Sport.
“For the fans watching it was obviously a great game of football. We are playing a side that have won the Champions League many times and if we give the ball away they are going to punish us. It is something we need to work on in the second leg. The tie is still on.”
Benzema told Movistar Plus: “A defeat is never good because we are really excited about the Champions League. The most important thing is we never lay down our arms, we are all in this until the end.
“Now we have to go to the Bernabéu and we will need our fans like never and we are going to do something magical, which is win.”
Things looked grim for Real when de Bruyne’s diving header at the far post off Riyad Mahrez’ cross and Jesus’ low shot off the Belgian playmaker put City 2-0 up after 11 minutes.
But Real hit back in the 33rd minute when Benzema fired Ferland Mendy’s cross in off the post.
The affair remained relentless after the break with Mahrez denied by the post before Foden headed home Fernandinho’s cross for 3-1.
Real hit back again a mere two minutes later from Vinicius Junior who first beat Fernandinho for the ball and then goalkeeper Ederson with a low shot after a solo across half the field.
Silva smashed City’s fourth into the top left corner in the 74th but Real simply refused to bow.
Benzema showed nerves like steel a few days after missing two penalties in the league against Osasuna, calmly converting Panenka-style from the spot after a Laporte handball to add a brace to his hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and four goals against title holders Chelsea in the quarter-finals.
The other first leg game Wednesday is also an English-Spanish affair, with Liverpool hosting surprise package Villarreal.