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De Bruyne rocket leaves Man. City and Madrid level

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric controls the ball against Manchester City. Photo: Oscar Del Pozo/AFP

Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant drive earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in a gripping Champions League semi-final first leg battle on Tuesday.

The Belgian slammed Pep Guardiola’s visitors level after Vinicius Junior opened the scoring for the reigning champions from distance in similarly spectacular fashion.

Madrid managed to completely shackle lethal striker Erling Haaland but De Bruyne’s powerful effort left the tie on a knife edge ahead of the second leg in Manchester next week.

The record 14-time winners knocked City out at the same stage last season despite being outplayed in both games, and took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu against the run of play.

However when Madrid found their stride in the second half, City — still chasing their first-ever Champions League trophy — hit back through De Bruyne.

Guardiola selected Kyle Walker at right-back to combat the pacy threat of Real Madrid winger Vinicius, while Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti opted for Toni Kroos at the base of midfield.

Rodrygo, who struck two late goals as a substitute last season against Manchester City to pave Madrid’s passage into the final, started after his Copa del Rey heroics on Saturday.

The visitors controlled much of the first half, with nearly 70 percent possession, but went in trailing at the break.

Thibaut Courtois fielded an early barrage of shots from De Bruyne, Rodri and Haaland, as City dominated and Madrid sat back, soaking up the pressure. 

Guardiola’s side were issued a warning when Vinicius won the ball high up the pitch and crossed for Karim Benzema but Ruben Dias made a superb interception.

It was Madrid’s only attack of note after half an hour and even though City were peppering Courtois, it was the closest either side came, until Vinicius struck.

Madrid took the lead through a lethal counter-attack, with Eduardo Camavinga, playing at left-back, surging past Bernardo Silva, tearing into space and feeding Vinicius.

The Brazilian arrowed a strike into the top left corner from almost 25 yards, past Ederson’s helpless dive. It was Madrid’s only shot in the first half, but the game’s most effective one.

Haaland shackled

City were upset with some of Madrid’s defensive aggression, particularly Dani Carvajal’s attempts at shackling Jack Grealish, including slamming him into the advertising hoardings without punishment.

David Alaba thwarted Haaland with a fine block early in the second half, as Madrid kept the Norwegian goal machine under lock and key on his first appearance against them.

Madrid did not allow him a clear sight of goal, ensuring he could not add to his 51 goals from 46 games this season across all competitions.

Madrid’s pressing was greatly improved after the break and they pinned City back at times, showing far more initiative than they offered at the start.

However with Los Blancos ascendent, City sucker-punched them, just as Madrid did to the Premier League leaders in the first half.

De Bruyne slammed the visitors level with a shot from the same range as Vinicius’s opener, at the same end, hammered low past Courtois.

Ederson palmed away a Benzema header and a vicious Aurelien Tchouameni effort in the final stages but, as Guardiola predicted before the game, the tie will be decided in Manchester.

The second leg takes place on May 17, with the winner facing Inter Milan or AC Milan in the final.

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