Guardiola praises Manchester City's emotional stability in pulsating draw at Real Madrid

Champions League holders and 14-time winners play out a 3-3 draw at the Bernabeu in quarter-finals first leg on Tuesday

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised his team for their emotional stability after claiming a 3-3 draw away to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals first leg on Tuesday night.

In a pulsating match at the Santiago Bernabeu, Bernardo Silva put holders City ahead with a low free-kick but Ruben Dias' own goal and Rodrygo helped Madrid dramatically and swiftly fight back to lead.

City's own quick-fire double in the second half through Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol stunned the record 14-time winners, but the hosts snatched a draw through Fede Valverde's scorching volley.

The thrilling match was played in the shadow of a threat by the Islamic State group to target every quarter-final first leg, with a heavy security presence around the Santiago Bernabeu.

Spanish officials said 2,000 police were to be deployed, but the match was played without incident off the field. On it, there was plenty under the closed stadium roof, which produced a thunderous atmosphere.

“I had the feeling it is a process. This result in the first seasons together we would lose 4-1, 5-1,” Guardiola said. “We were not stable emotionally. And being stable emotionally is so important.

“We have an idea and we believe now in what we want to do but it is impossible to control all the time against Real Madrid. You have to stick it. In the first seasons, we would not. Now we are more stable and hopefully in the future we can do better and better.”

Guardiola omitted influential playmaker Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian said he was unwell shortly before the game. The former Barcelona coach also chose Stefan Ortega in goal over the experienced Ederson, only just back from a thigh injury, while Gvardiol overcame a fitness doubt to start.

Ancelotti opted for defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni at centre-back over Nacho Fernandez and an early rash challenge from the Frenchman paved the way for City's opener.

Tchouameni clumsily hacked down Jack Grealish after 33 seconds and was booked, meaning he will miss the second leg.

From the free-kick Silva punished Madrid further, catching goalkeeper Andriy Lunin out at his near post with a low effort which skidded home. Lunin was sluggish to react and although he got a hand to the ball he could not keep it out.

Ancelotti, coaching a record 200th Champions League match, claimed his team lacked courage and personality when they were crushed by City in last season's semis, but they showed mental strength to quickly turn the game on its head.

This kind of feat is Madrid's wont in the Champions League, and they produced two goals in two minutes, reminiscent of their stunning 2022 semi-final comeback against City thanks to Rodrygo's brace.

Dias deflected the first into his own net as he tried to block Camavinga's long-range piledriver, and Rodrygo slipped home the second after Vinicius Junior played him in, aided by another deflection, off Manuel Akanji.

Foden pulled his team level with a superb strike, arched into the top corner from the edge of the box. The England international is enjoying his finest goalscoring campaign with this perfectly placed effort his 22nd across all competitions.

Foden was taken off hurt late on but Guardiola said the injury was just "a knock".

With Antonio Rudiger shackling Erling Haaland, City got a goal from an unlikely source to lead five minutes later. Gvardiol's ferocious bending effort from distance left Lunin no chance and silenced the Bernabeu -- but not for long.

Valverde's brilliant volley from Vinicius' cross zipped past Ortega to level the score and leave the game deliciously poised for the second leg on April 17.

“It was a really good, entertaining game,” Guardiola said. “Two teams that want to attack - in different ways but they want to attack. “Fantastic goals - all three [of ours] and Valverde’s as well.

“What I love is the way we played the second half when we were 2-1 down. We controlled the game really well.

“It’s Madrid. You can be 3-2 and the game is over - here it is never over. One week until our next game in Manchester - it will be sold out and they will help us score one goal. We will do the rest. And the team who is best will reach the semi-finals.”

Ancelotti said he had no complaints about the result and backed his team to repeat their performance in the second leg at the Etihad next Wednesday in a bid to reach the semi-finals.

“We put in a great performance, it was a hard-fought game. We started really poorly, conceding the early goal. After that, the team executed the press really well, we won a lot of balls and attacked well on the transitions," he said.

"We could have won it, we had chances to make it 3-1. They scored two amazing goals but we showed the desire and commitment to get back into the game and level. Now we have the disadvantage of playing away from home but we can put in a repeat performance of what we saw here today.”

Updated: April 10, 2024, 4:33 AM