Vinicius Jr. was impressive while Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos failed to hold their nerve as Real Madrid were handed a 2-1 loss by Manchester City on Wednesday.
A keenly contested first half ended goalless, despite chances flowing on either end of the pitch. The game would turn on its head at the hour mark, when Isco put Real Madrid ahead against the run of play. However, poor defending from Dani Carvajal meant Manchester City were in front with seven minutes left in regulation time.
Manchester City first levelled things up through Gabriel Jesus, who nodded in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross. De Bruyne then gave City the lead from the spot after Carvajal brought Raheem Sterling down in the Real Madrid box.
There was time for late drama as Sergio Ramos was sent off moments later. Having conceded two away goals, Real Madrid have an uphill task to scale their way back in the tie and reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
The clear standout for Real Madrid against Manchester City. A stupendous save to deny Gabriel Jesus in the first half kept the game goalless. Two further stops from Riyad Mahrez stood out. In all, Courtois made 6 saves, five of which were from shots inside the box. Could not have done much to deny Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne and was sold short by Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal.
Dani Carvajal: 3/10
A game to forget for Carvajal. While the Spaniard was not entirely bad and posed a great deal of threat going forward, he struggled on the defensive front for much of the game. Culpable for both the goals that Manchester City scored, first letting De Bruyne cross in for Jesus before bringing Raheem Sterling down to concede the match-winning penalty. A nightmarish evening.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
One of those players who can hold their head up high despite being a part of the defeated team. Solid at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, Varane sometimes had a bit too much to do, with Carvajal and Sergio Ramos faltering. Assured with the ball at his feet, Varane completed 88 percent of his passes.
Sergio Ramos: 3/10
Ramos was not nearly as bad as Carvajal as far as defensive acumen is concerned. However, the Real Madrid captain has put his team under pressure for the second leg by getting sent off late in the game, for a needless challenge. Ramos also should have done better when dealing with Jesus for Manchester City’s first goal. Irresponsible.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Another player who did his part. Mendy did have his struggles against Riyad Mahrez, but for the most part, he kept a check on the Algerian winger. However, it his exploits with the ball at his feet that were more impressive. A staggering passing rate of 96.2 percent to boot, Mendy also created a great chance for Karim Benzema apart from delivering two other key passes. Top effort.
Federico Valverde: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Valverde. The Uruguayan typically worked hard off the ball and supported Casemiro well. Moved the ball along smartly as well. However, it is when Manchester City started growing into the game that Valverde’s levels dropped off. Needed to keep a check on Ilkay Gundogan at this point.
One of those rare evenings when Casemiro was not quite at his best. The Brazilian did have a big positive moment in the game, when he blocked a goalbound effort on the goalline. However, when Manchester City took the game to Real Madrid, it was Casemiro who was shockingly overrun with ease.
Luka Modric: 6.5/10
Modric was by far the best midfielder for Real Madrid. Pretty much all of the forward creative thrust for Los Blancos flowed through the Croat, who linked up well with Vinicius Jr. Then again, the fact that Modric had all of the creative impetus on him meant he had a bit too much to do at times. Nevertheless, a decent effort.
Isco has scored his first Champions League knockout goal since May 2017.
Real go in front against the run of play. ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/wEvoT5u2G7
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 26, 2020
A game which saw Isco continue his fine run of form. The Spaniard ran his socks off and supported Carvajal in the defensive phase. Going forward, Isco carried a threat but also drifted out of the game at times. However, when it mattered, he applied the finishing touches to Vinicius Jr.’s pass.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
Another evening that saw Benzema’s indifferent run of form extend. The Frenchman was unlucky to see Ederson parry away his superb headed effort. Other than that moment though, Benzema spent much of the game on the periphery, struggling to pose a threat. Real Madrid desperately need him to regain his peak form if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Vinicius Jr.: 8/10
Preferred to Gareth Bale, Vinicius vindicated Zidane’s decision with a spectacular showing. Easily Real Madrid’s best outfield player, the Brazilian constantly kept Kyle Walker backpedaling while also putting in the effort to ensure Ferland Mendy was not overpowered at the back.
Vinicius produced one of the best moments of the game as well, when he pounced on a mistake in the middle of the park by Manchester City before delivering the assist for Isco’s goal. Inexplicably the first player to be taken off, Vinicius’s substitution ended up being one of the turning points.
Gareth Bale: 5/10
Given the last 15 minutes, Bale looked dangerous early on after being subbed in but made no impact whatsoever in the final 10 minutes. Disappointing.
Lucas Vazquez: N/A
Introduced with six minutes left, Vazquez could not manage to make a difference.
Luka Jovic: N/A
Barely had time to make an impact.