Real Madrid Overcomes City and Outdoes Itself ,With Late Rally

Real Madrid Overcomes City

Real Madrid
Real Madrid

There was nothing. There was no noise. The Santiago Bernabéu stood silent, subdued, waiting for the bell to toll. There was no spark. Real Madrid had long since run out of ideas, and they were running low on hope, too. Most pressingly, there was no time. There were 30 seconds left, plus maybe a little extra purgatory, and then it would be over.

Real Madrid’s campaign in the Champions League this season has run on magic and miracles. The comeback against the glittering array of Instagram influencers arranged in the vague shape of a team by Paris St.-Germain. The revival against Chelsea that hinged on a single, unstoppable pass from Luka Modric.

But there comes a point when reality has to intrude, when the chaos has to give way to order. There are certain inevitabilities that even Real Madrid, soccer’s great self-actualizers, a team that runs exclusively on the power of its own imagination, have to acknowledge. This was one of them. This was the point where all of it came to an end.

And then, in a single, blinding flash, it happened. There were no warning signs, no rumbles of thunder, no auguries, no harbingers. One minute Manchester City was in complete control of its semifinal, leading by a single goal on the night and by two, a yawning chasm, on aggregate. Jack Grealish had missed a couple of chances to add a little gloss to the score line, but nobody seemed overly concerned.

Then, in a beat, the world turned upside down. With 89 minutes and 30 seconds played, Rodrygo reacted quickest to Karim Benzema’s knockdown and stabbed a shot past Éderson. He gobbled the ball from the back of the net, and sprinted straight back to the halfway line. The Bernabéu stirred to life. There was noise.

On the sideline, the fourth official, Davide Massa, was fumbling with his electronic scoreboard. He lifted it above his head, the number six illuminated in bright, lively green: six more minutes. Now, suddenly, there was time, and it carried hope in its wake. Real Madrid, though, did not need it. It does not work like that. It swept up the field again. Dani Carvajal conjured a cross. There was Rodrygo again, his header flashing past Éderson.