Real Madrid 1-0 Manchester City: Sky Blues out of Champions League after Fernando own-goal
Real Madrid 1-0 Man City (1-0 agg)
Real Madrid have beaten Manchester City 1-0 in the Champions League semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu for a 1-0 aggregate win
Real Madrid will face Atletico Madrid in the final on May 28 in Milan.
A deflected Gareth Bale strike ended Manchester City's Champions League challenge and sent Real Madrid through to face city rivals Atletico in the final.
City midfielder Fernando inadvertently diverted Bale's 20th-minute strike into his own net at the Bernabeu to hand Real a 1-0 win both on the night and on aggregate.
City never found momentum after captain Vincent Kompany was forced off yet again early on and they had Joe Hart to thank for keeping them in contention right until the end.
Hart produced a string of impressive saves to deny a Real side bolstered by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo and that kept City hopes alive they could nick an away goal and with it victory.
But it was not to be as City never threatened with any regularity.
Their night could hardly have got off to a worse start as Kompany pulled up with what seemed a thigh injury after just eight minutes.
In a sight that has become all too familiar in an injury-plagued campaign for the Belgian, Kompany went down after overrunning the ball and immediately signalled to the bench.
It was quickly apparent his night was over and the player looked crestfallen as he gingerly rose to his feet, limped off and handed the armband to Yaya Toure.
That completely undid what had been a confident start by City and they struggled to gain any meaningful possession for a prolonged spell.
Real turned up the pressure with Ronaldo, relishing the chance to run at Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, heading over and sending another shot off-target.
City were unable to stem the tide and the hosts broke through as Bale burst into the area on the right and his fierce shot took a slight but critical deflection off Fernando. It flew into the roof of the net over the diving Hart.
It might have got worse for City as Pepe poked the ball past Hart from a Toni Kroos free-kick but the flag was raised for offside.
City struggled to muster a response but Jesus Navas and Bacary Sagna both got into good positions only to fail to pick out the isolated Sergio Aguero.
City's one good moment of the first half came just before the break as Fernandinho cut inside from the left but his powerful drive struck the base of the post.
The visitors needed a rousing team talk at half-time from their outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini, but as the second period began it was Hart that kept them in the game.
Hart got his body in the way to deny Luka Modric after the rest of the defence had switched off and then twice saved from Ronaldo.
Bale went close with a header that rebounded off the crossbar before the extraordinary sight of Ronaldo catching the ball and pushing it into the net - but he had already been flagged offside.
Real should have put the game out of sight but the longer they went without scoring, signs of frustration began to creep in. Kroos appeared to hit out at Fernandinho off the ball and niggly fouls crept into their game.
Knowing a goal would change everything, City pushed late on but after Aguero sent a long-range shot over, their hopes faded.
We look at some talking points ahead of the game.
CRISTIANO RONALDO'S FITNESS
There have been lots of conflicting reports about the fitness of Real Madrid's star player over the past week but he now seems certain to play after coach Zinedine Zidane declared him "100 per cent" fit. Admittedly he said something similar prior to the first leg at the Etihad Stadium, which Ronaldo missed with a thigh injury, but this time the Portuguese seems to have trained without difficulty. Whether it is a risk or not will only become clear when the game kicks off but, on paper, City's task has just got harder.
OTHER TEAM NEWS
For Real, this concerns Karim Benzema and Casemiro, two other crucial players. Neither of them are likely to play. Benzema is not quite the headline-grabber Ronaldo is but he is another formidable presence in the Spanish side's attacking line. Casemiro has been influential in midfield since being trusted by Zidane and his presence could be missed. City are likely to bring back a whole host of players after ringing the changes at Southampton on Sunday. Yaya Toure, who has missed six of the last nine games with injuries, could also return although the Fernando-Fernandinho midfield pairing has functioned well in his absence.
MANUEL PELLEGRINI'S PRIORITY
The Manchester City manager has said regularly throughout his three years at City that he treats all competitions with equal importance but, when push came to shove, that went out of the window at the weekend. Feeling the Sunday game at Southampton should have been scheduled on Saturday to allow his players the same amount of rest as Real before the Bernabeu clash, Pellegrini made eight changes. City paid the price and lost vital points in their bid to retain a top-four spot in the Premier League, but Pellegrini will feel justified if his side pull off a famous win on Wednesday. He was similarly vindicated after making multiple changes before the last-16 game at Dynamo Kiev. He will not be at City next season and so the Champions League is now his last shot at glory.
THE REAL FACTOR
Pellegrini has characteristically downplayed the personal significance of this semi-final against the club that fired him harshly after just one season in charge in 2010. The Chilean's statistics at the Bernabeu were good but his then club record 96 La Liga points were not enough to take the title from Barcelona and he was shown the door. He has since said he did not have a good relationship with the club's hierarchy.
OLD V NEW
The clash is one that pits the greatest heavyweight in the history of European club football against a club making rapid advances towards joining them among the elite. Victory for City would further underline their ambition, and there have been clear signs of a growing maturity in European football this season. Whether they are quite ready to make the leap to playing a Champions League final remains to be seen but few doubt they are heading in that direction. Real will look to strike a blow for the old guard and keep them in place - for now.
Belfast Telegraph Digital