It was not simply that Manchester City
had led by two goals with 90 minutes on the clock, a place in the Champions League last against Liverpool generally theirs-- although that was plainly the best, deepest misery.
It was not that this semi-final should have long since been over. After the first leg, which City had actually controlled. Or prior to Real Madrid's stoppage-time sorcery, in which the replacement Rodrygo cast the spells, scoring two rarely believable goals to force extra time.
The City replacement Jack Grealish had seen a shot amazingly hacked off the line by Ferland Mendy in the 87th minute and he then viewed Thibaut Courtois stand out a toe to divert a shot from him just past the far post.
It was the manner in which the footballing gods, with whom Real appear to have a handle options, tormented them. Rodrygo had practically completed a stoppage-time hat-trick at the end of typical time, taking in to extend Ederson, when Phil Foden received a quick free-kick and saw splendor beckon. His shot flew high.
On into additional time and there was a procedure of inevitability about how Real got the next goal, not to mention the identity of the scorer. It was a tired challenge from Rúben Dias on Karim Benzema, who had actually nipped in front of the City defender and on to a low Rodrygo cross-- an obvious penalty. And everybody understood what was following.
Benzema had kept Real in the tie at the end of the first-leg with an ice-in-the-veins Panenka. This time, he slotted low inside Ederson's left-hand post. It was his 15th goal of the Champions League project and, exceptionally, his 10th in the knockout rounds. Overall for Real this season, Benzema has 43 goals in 43 appearances.
The tie had been spiky from start to finish and how the Bernabéu crowd growled when Pep Guardiola, their bête noire from his Barcelona days, remonstrated with the authorities as the City dream headed towards dust.
Did City have anything left?
Foden drew a diving save out of Courtois with a header at the end of the first period of extra time however the broad answer was no. Their discomfort knew no bounds. Kevin De Bruyne had actually stated that winning a very first Champions League would change the external narrative around the club. This only enhanced it.
City have actually fallen short previously under Guardiola-- in the competition that they crave more than any other-- not least in last season's last against Chelsea. However never ever like this. They will attempt to recover by maintaining their Premier League title however the wounds from this will stay open for a long time.
Could they influence on the league campaign?
And so Real advance, breathlessly, into a repeat of the 2018 last-- in which they beat Liverpool-- their sights set on a fifth accomplishment in this competition in eight years. They have defied reasoning in the past but surely never as much as they have done this season.
Real were largely beat by Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the previous rounds just to squeeze through and here, it was no exaggeration to say that they did not create a specific possibility up until Rodrygo turned home Benzema's cross to cancel out Riyad Mahrez's rocket on the night. Rodrygo's second-- the dagger to City hearts-- was a header from a Dani Carvajal cross that deflected in front of him at the very last. His reaction was excellent.
City had safeguarded resiliently, restricting Real to scraps, and they had pertained to feel that a person opening, one moment, could provide the convenience they wanted. With 73 minutes gone, they got it. It was Bernardo Silva who played the final pass, teasing it into the path of the onrushing Mahrez, who had actually been peripheral up till that point.
No longer. City's leading scorer took off the sweetest left-footed drive high inside Courtois' near post which appeared to be that. It did not even seem to matter when Grealish might not take his chances. How wrong that feeling would be.
It had been possible to forget that City did really win the first leg, what with the angst over the missed out on chances-- at least half a dozen big ones; the sensation that the single-goal cushion represented a booby prize. Or a trap.
Guardiola's team would create the much better openings throughout the very first half of regular time here, with De Bruyne laying on the clearest one for Silva, Courtois making a wise response save. De Bruyne likewise teed up Gabriel Jesus, who swiped narrowly broad, while there was a sweet hit on the volley by Foden from 25 backyards that worked Courtois.
The pre-match confidence in Madrid had actually been ludicrously high. Ditto the sense of theatre. "Another wonderful night from the kings of Europe," trumpeted the tifo above a picture of Benzema, who was mocked up as an emperor. It is all a part of the show, all a part of what City needed to tame.
It was edgy, the passions simmering throughout and very first boiling over when Casemiro took down De Bruyne with a scissors-style tackle. It led to a confrontation in between Luka Modric and Aymeric Laporte, after which both were booked. Casemiro remarkably was not and he got away with another one in the 33rd minute when he dragged down Foden.
A crucial clash was the one between Vinícius Júnior and the fit again City right-back, Kyle Walker, who barely conceded an inch. Walker was the sign of his group's defiance until he was forced off minutes before Mahrez's goal. At that point, it was impossible to anticipate the conclusion. Real would discover a way.