For the second time in three years, Real Madrid will meet city rivals AtlÃ©tico Madrid in the Champions League final following their 1-0 win over Manchester City in the semifinal second leg on Wednesday night at the Estadio Santiago BernabÃ©u.
Gareth Bale was the hero as his 20th minute shot forced a Fernando own goal that would end up being the lone goal scored by either side after 180 minutes of football.Real will now seek their 11th European crown at the San Siro in Milan against Los Colchoneros in a rematch of the two teams' epic final in 2014 in Lisbon.
The hosts were by far the superior side but were unable to put away a pesky City side that stayed in it until the final whistle. However, just like in their last two league encounters, it was Bale who proved to be the difference in what was a tight, tension-filled two-legged tie. There was both good news and bad news for manager Zinedine Zidane on the injury front prior to the match.
Midfielder Casemiro and forward Karim Benzema were forced to miss, thus giving Isco a chance to shine alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, while JesÃ© was tabbed to replace the Frenchman in attack. However, Zidane got a massive boost with the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese's first match since a 3-0 win over Villarreal on April 20th. Bad luck struck Real's English visitors inside the first 10 minutes as centre-back and captain Vincent Kompany hobbled off with an injury.
Real looked to prey off of City's vulnerability in the back, and Gareth Bale did just that when he opened the scoring midway through the first half. Dani Carvajal fed an onside Bale and the Welshman's shot barely nicked off the leg of Fernando before banging off the far post and in past City goalkeeper Joe Hart. City tried to get going at the other end through their playmakers Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, but Manuel Pellegrini's men found difficulty linking their midfield with attack.
It was not until a minute before half-time when City got their first real look at goal when Fernandinho did well to create space off of Carvajal and sent a shot that grazed the outside of the near post.Real maintained control of the affair to start the second half, and were much closer to a second than City were to a first, however Los Blancos were done in by poor finishing: A Modric shot went straight to Hart, then Ronaldo failed to convert two chances, one a header that Hart easily saved and then a low-driving shot that the City No. 1 smothered.
Bale came within inches of scoring his second and putting the tie to bed just after the hour mark, but his spinning header banked off the post and out.However, there was no change in the scoreline, much to City's favour and it set the stage for a nervy final quarter hour for the anxious BernabÃ©u crowd. But City lacked the intensity, urgency and cutting edge in the attacking end to truly trouble Keylor Navas in goal.
Outside of a De Bruyne free kick and a long-range dipping effort from Aguero, there was little for the Costa Rican to have to worry about.In the end, Real did enough at both ends to secure their passage to Milan and a rematch with their city rivals.