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Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid (4-2 agg): Sterling, Jesus seal quarter-final spot

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Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus sent Manchester City into the Champions League quarter-finals as a 2-1 defeat of Real Madrid on Friday sealed a 4-2 aggregate win.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg of their last-16 tie in February, City hit the front early on at the Etihad Stadium when Raphael Varane gift-wrapped Raheem Sterling his 100th goal for the club.

Karim Benzema’s fine header restored parity in the 28th minute, only for Varane to again cost Madrid midway through the second half.

Jesus was the benefactor of the centre-back’s second calamity of the game, with a quarter-final clash against Lyon the reward for City.

Varane’s nightmare started in the ninth minute, with the France international playing himself into trouble, Jesus robbing possession and teeing up Sterling for a simple finish.

Sterling very nearly had his 101st goal in sky blue moments after, but his chipped effort dropped just over the bar.

Ederson had to make two fine saves as Madrid fought back, but City did not heed the warning, and the visitors were on level terms when Benzema headed in from Rodrygo’s cross.

Sterling could have done better with a shot into the side netting following the restart, before Thibaut Courtois denied Kevin De Bruyne direct from a corner.

Courtois was in action again with 25 minutes remaining, tipping Jesus’ effort over, but City had their second soon after.

Having messed up his initial header, Varane put nowhere near enough power on his nod back to Courtois, with Jesus nipping in to prod home cleverly from a tight angle.

Handed an Etihad farewell in the final stages, David Silva was inches away from making it 3-1 with a dipping free-kick, but City ultimately settled for what they had as they knocked out the 13-time European champions.

What does it mean? Jekyll and Hyde City must sharpen up to break Champions League duck

Sterling’s opener was City’s 150th Champions League goal, in their 76th appearance in the competition, yet they then conceded their 100th goal in the tournament under 20 minutes later.

If they are to end their wait for Europe’s top club trophy this season, City’s defence must give more support to their stellar forwards.

Century up for Sterling

Though the goal was gaping, Sterling still showed real composure to nudge City ahead early on, and in doing so he became the 17th player to reach a century of goals for the Citizens and the first Englishman since Dennis Tueart in 1981.

Varane horror show proves decisive

With Sergio Ramos suspended, the pressure was on Eder Militao heading into Friday’s clash, yet it was his experienced defensive partner Varane who was left red-faced after his two errors resulted in both of City’s goals.

Key Opta Facts

– Manchester City’s victory marks the first time an English side have won both legs in a Champions League knockout tie against Spanish opposition since 2008-09 when Liverpool won 5-0 on aggregate against Real Madrid.

– Madrid have been eliminated before the quarter-finals in consecutive Champions League campaigns for the first time since 2009-10 – they had reached at least the semi-finals in each of the eight seasons between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

– Zinedine Zidane was eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time as Real Madrid boss, having progressed from each of the previous 12.

– Raheem Sterling became just the sixth different Englishman to score 20 Champions League goals, whilst only Wayne Rooney (24y 157d) reached this total at a younger age than Sterling (25y 243d).

– Gabriel Jesus is just the second player to score in both legs of a Champions League knockout tie against Madrid for an English side, after Ruud van Nistelrooy with Manchester United in 2002-03.

– Karim Benzema has scored five goals in his past six appearances in the Champions League knockout stages for Madrid, as many as he had in his previous 26 such appearances combined.

What’s next?

Lyon, who knocked out Juventus on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw, are next up for City on August 15 in Lisbon, while Madrid’s focus will switch to the new season.

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