‘A football game is not over until it is over’; that was the new lesson I learnt on the night of May 4, 2022; in the Champions League semifinal match between Real Madrid and Manchester City. An unbelievable ending to a breathtaking encounter.
First leg showed symptom
The way the game went in the prior week at Manchester City’s home gave reasons for concern. For Pep Guardiola’s men, the fierce 4-3 win at home gave glimpse of hope; that Manchester City could advance if they take charge of their leaky defense. But at the same time, the way they easily conceded goals immediately after they scored each goal calls for caution.
In this season’s Champion’s league; Real Madrid had proved to be the one with the last laugh over two leg match. The manner with which they dealt with Paris Saint German, Chelsea and now Manchester City; winning all those games with just one goal margin on aggregate.
Hope dashed in the last minute of the game
Manchester City’s hope was quite bright all through the night until the last minute of regular time. The first half ended 0-0, and by the 73rd minute; the super sleek pass from Bernado Silva to Mahrez broke the deadlock. Of course, Manchester City’s hope moved from 50% to 95%; it seems obvious nothing was stopping them from a back to back Champion’s league final, or so we thought.
At that time, jubilation of Manchester City fans knew no bounds. By the 85th minute, the score line was still in their favour with a two goal lead; surrendering it seems impossible with just few minutes to go. I am convinced some fans were already checking flight tickets and possibly hotels in preparation for the finals in Paris.
How things change so quickly; Rodrygo scored for Real Madrid on the 90th minute and just a minute later, he scored the equalizer. That was a hard pill to swallow. What went wrong? Were Manchester City’s defenders sleeping on such a high profile match? or could it be the players were already carried away like most fans were? These and many more questions are still begging for answers in my mind even days after the match.
Dream game shattered at last
After the equalizing goal at the 91st minute. Manchester’s city’s fans were still hopeful; that we could give something worthwhile during the extra time or in the worse case scenario; drag the match to penalty shoot outs. That string of hope we held onto, was cut off at the 95th minute. The in-form prolific striker: Kareem Benzema, skillfully cut it off with his beautifully taken penalty. He eventually shattered our dreams.
Real Madrid the master of Champions league
What happened on that night was not totally surprising because Real Madrid are Champions league ‘merchant’. The most successful football club in the history of the tournament; having won 13 times, the last at the 2018 finals against Liverpool.
They are in the finals again, can they win it for the 14th time? Only time would tell. In the meantime, they thought me a lesson ‘a football game is not over, until its is over’.