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Manchester City 0-0 Real Madrid: All square as Joe Hart makes crucial late save

Published 26/04/2016

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) saves an effort on goal from from close by Real Madrid's pepe (right) during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PA
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (left) saves an effort on goal from from close by Real Madrid's pepe (right) during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PA
Manchester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (L) tangles with Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (R) during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne plays during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Real Marid's Rodriguez Jese and Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PA
Vincent Kompany of Manchester City collides with Casemiro of Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo watches from the crowd as a spectator during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Streamers and flags are waved before the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez (left) and Manchester City President Khaldoon Al Mubarak (right) in the stands during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (R) and Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernando (L) go up for a high ball during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Flags are waved in the stands as the players take to the pitch during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: The Real Madrid team pose for the cameras prior to kickoff during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: The non playing Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF shares a joke with a teammate during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: The opposing teams walk out onto the pitch prior to kickoff during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
A Manchester City fan holds up a sign which reads 'Living the Dream' during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
The UEFA Champions League trophy on display prior to the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
A Real Madrid fan cheers before kick off of the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
5: Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane earns £9.5million per annun
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez (left) and Manchester City President Khaldoon Al Mubarak (right) in the stands during the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: A fan arrives at the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
A general view of screens prior to the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Fans make their way to the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero arriving for the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
A general view of seating prior to the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
A general view of seating prior to the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Gareth Bale looks on during a Real Madrid press conference on the eve of their UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on April 25, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale is pictured during a training session at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 25, 2016, ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, first leg football match against Manchester City on April 26 in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd L) takes part in a training session at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 25, 2016, ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, first leg football match against Manchester City on April 26 in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Real Madrid's (left to right) Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema during a training session at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd L) takes part in a training session at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 25, 2016, ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, first leg football match against Manchester City on April 26 in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during a training session at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's (left to right) Cristiano Ronaldo, Mateo Kovacic and Gareth Bale during a training session at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos during a training session at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale during a training session at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Real Madrid. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Zinedine Zidane manager of Real Madrid looks on during a Real Madrid press conference on the eve of their UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on April 25, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Zinedine Zidane manager of Real Madrid looks on during a Real Madrid press conference on the eve of their UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on April 25, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Manchester City's Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini speaks during a press conference in Manchester, northwest England on April 25, 2016 ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, first leg football match against Real Madrid on April 26. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during a training session at the Etihad Campus, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany speaks during a press conference at the Etihad Campus, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany (left) with Raheem Sterling, Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala and Kevin De Bruyne (right), during a training session at the Etihad Campus, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini watches his players, during a training session at the Etihad Campus, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid CF (left) and Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester City survived a late onslaught from a Real Madrid side lacking Cristiano Ronaldo to draw the first leg of their Champions League semi-final 0-0.

Manuel Pellegrini's men came under heavy pressure in the second half at the Etihad Stadium as a previously subdued Real finally found their teeth.

City goalkeeper Joe Hart again proved their saviour, producing fine reflex stops from Casemiro and Pepe, while Jese also hit the bar as the visitors upped the tempo in the latter stages.

City held on to give themselves a fighting chance heading into next week's second leg at the Bernabeu although the watching Ronaldo, who unexpectedly failed a fitness test, will hope to feature.

The occasion was a tense one, although there was some amusement on the touchline as Real coach Zinedine Zidane split his trousers.

The drama began before kick-off as Ronaldo, whom Zidane had suggested would be fit after a thigh injury, failed to make the teamsheet.

He was forced to watch from the bench while his Brazilian namesake Ronaldo, a former Real player, looked on from the stands.

The absence of former Manchester United star Ronaldo should have boosted City, as would the sight of their fans waving flags in an impressive pre-game display of support.

City responded well initially with their all-Brazilian central midfield pairing of Fernandinho and Fernando taking an early grip on proceedings.

Even though neither side could muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes it was City who were the more positive.

Kevin De Bruyne curled a dangerous ball into the box for Sergio Aguero but Pepe did enough to prevent the Argentinian shooting.

Pepe was booked soon after for taking down a surging De Bruyne on the right and Sergio Ramos was perhaps fortunate to escape a similar fate after fouling Fernandinho in a similar position.

Without Ronaldo, Real were limited in attack. Gareth Bale struggled to get into the game and on the visitors' rare forays forward Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi were solid.

City suffered a blow before the break as playmaker David Silva was forced off with a suspected hamstring injury but his replacement Kelechi Iheanacho, scorer of two goals at the weekend, entered to a big ovation.

The hosts had a clear chance early in the second half but Aguero fired over and Real finally started to force their way into the game.

Bale appealed without success for a penalty after stumbling following a challenge from Otamendi and an unmarked Ramos spurned a golden chance when he headed straight at Hart from a corner.

Toni Kroos missed the target with a long-range effort and substitute Jese went close as he leapt ahead of Fernando and headed against the bar. Bale curled an effort wide and Vazquez was also denied a penalty after tangling with Otamendi.

Hart, who had hitherto had a quiet game, then came to City's rescue with a fine reflex save from a Casemiro header and then did even better to block from Pepe at point-blank range.

City breathed a huge sigh of relief as they weathered that storm and they might even have snatched victory in injury time as De Bruyne had a free-kick tipped over by Keylor Navas.

Pre-match talking points

We look at some talking points ahead of the eagerly-anticipated tie.

HISTORIC OCCASION FOR CITY

This is a huge match for City and their biggest European occasion since reaching the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup final. The club have ambitions to be competing on this stage regularly but for now it is an important milestone in their accelerated progress towards the top of the game.

IMPORTANCE OF THE CROWD

City's fans have been slow to embrace the Champions League and their disgruntlement with organisers UEFA is well known, with their concerted booing of the competition's anthem having become a regular occurrence.

But enthusiasm has grown throughout this year's run and in the quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, the booing actually seemed to energise the crowd rather than set the wrong tone on what was a famous and raucous night. It should be another fiery atmosphere.

DOES PELLEGRINI HAVE A SCORE TO SETTLE?

The tie brings City boss Manuel Pellegrini up against the club that sacked him, perhaps harshly, in 2010 after just one season in charge. The Chilean secured a then club record 96 points in La Liga but still finished second to Barcelona. He has since said he did not have a good relationship with the board. He has played down the personal aspect of this meeting but overcoming his former employers would be highly satisfactory for the 62-year-old.

WHO WILL WIN THE BATTLE UP FRONT?

Neither side have a great reputation for defending, meaning the contest could be an open one. Real will look to their formidable forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale - although the former two must overcome fitness issues - to inflict maximum damage. City will rely on their striker Sergio Aguero, backed up by in-form Kevin De Bruyne and fit-again David Silva, to respond in kind.

KOMPANY SET TO RETURN

City have started to find form in recent weeks and their central defensive partnership of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi has won over a few doubters after some shaky performances earlier in the season. Nevertheless, it would be a huge surprise if the highly influential Vincent Kompany, now recovered from his latest calf injury, did not return. City always look much more composed with their experienced leader at the heart of their back line.

CAN CITY STOP RONALDO?

Stopping Ronaldo, the three-time world player of the year, could be critical to City's hopes. The Portuguese has scored 31 goals in 34 La Liga games this season and 16 in 10 in the Champions League. He also has a fine record against City, having beaten them in all five games in which he has scored for either Real or Manchester United. However, he has also been sent off twice against them.

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