The Roar
The Roar


What the UCL?! Scary reality of 'extraordinary' star as City smash scoring record, VAR lets Real off the hook

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14th February, 2024

Phil Foden’s late goal has given Pep Guardiola’s defending champions the perfect start to the Champions League knock out stages while a special strike from Real Madrid’s Brahim Diaz led them to victory at RB Leipzig.

So, have we just seen the two teams who can lift this year’s trophy on day one?

“I don’t see anyone other than Manchester City or Real Madrid winning the Champions League this season,” said former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand.

While there were some setbacks for Guardiola – injuries to Jack Grealish and and Bernardo Silva souring the win – Foden’s late goal to make it 3-1 could also have a significant flow on effect in the Premier League title race.

The second leg back in Manchester is on March 7, between a home derby against Man United on March 4 and a cracking visit to Liverpool on March 11 that could have a major imapct on the title race.

Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League exclusive & ad-free, live & on demand on Stan Sport.

Grealish, handed his first start in six matches, lasted just 21 minutes at Parken Stadium before being forced off with a groin problem.

Silva, who put City into a 2-1 lead just before the break with a fine flicked finish, took a knock to the ankle late in the game.


The double blow comes after Josko Gvardiol missed the game with an ankle injury and Mateo Kovacic was also unavailable.

“It’s something muscular with Jack, his groin,” Guardiola said.

“He felt it on the grass, started to complain. The players can feel it immediately if it’s muscular. It’s a pity, he’s gutted.

“He wanted to continue but we didn’t want to make the damage even worse. We’ll make tests tomorrow.

“Bernardo has a big knock in his ankle and Josko is out two to three weeks. Kova is ready to come back.”

De Bruyne hitting his straps

City are perfectly poised in the league and look imperious in Europe and despite the injury concerns have been significantly boosted by the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne.


City have won their last 11 games in all competitions, their longest such run since a 21-game run between December 2020 and March 2021.

This victory means they have won four successive Champions League away games for just the second time, previously doing so between December 2019 and November 2020. They’ve also won nine straight in the Champions League – and they’re banging in the goals.

Their last defeat in the competition came on May 4, 2022.

And consider this: City have only lost one two-legged UCL knockout tie in nearly five years, and that was when Real scored twice in injury time at the Bernabeu in that game.

On Wednesday, De Bruyne scored the opening goal and laid on a second that was brilliantly taken by Silva.

“Yeah, extraordinary,” said Guardiola of De Bruyne’s impact.


“The first goal was amazing, the right pass and tempo from Phil Foden. The biggest players appear on the biggest stages. It’s the hour of truth. We started well. We have to do our job and finish it. I’m just really pleased for the result.”

The combination between Foden and De Bruyne looks like it could sweep all before it this season.

“Me and Kevin [de Bruyne] have built that connection now so we know where we’re running. He’s such an important player for us,” said Foden.

“When teams play in a low block you need runners in behind. Kevin knows the right time to make that movement and it makes my job easier. For me, there’s no better player in the world at passing the ball. He’s a pleasure to play with and so important.

“It’s a special group. I enjoy being here every day. There’s so much hunger. When you have that determination it goes a long way.”

The scary reality facing City’s rivals is De Bruyne has yet to play a full 90 minutes since his return from injury – but has already been involved in nine goals.


“That second half was an absolute joy to watch,” said former Socceroo Mark Bosnich on the Stan Sport post-game show. “A lot of people would say they’re a machine but I think machine is not giving them enough praise.

“The one thing about this Man City side is they have the ability to play from their patterns, but from those patterns, they’ve got the ability to do things people don’t expect.”

Real Madrid’s copy cat goal

Real Madrid match winner Brahim Diaz paid tribute to injured teammate Jude Bellingham after his wonderful solo strike.

The former Manchester City youngster claimed the only goal of the game and then copied Bellingham’s iconic celebration.

Bellingham missed out with an ankle injury and his place was taken by Diaz.


‘Oh my God Brahim,’ added the England star, who is expected to be sidelined for three weeks.

“I love [Bellingham],” Diaz said afterwards. “From the first moment, we’ve got on really well. I’m helping him with his Spanish. He’s a world-class player, I enjoy playing with him. Apart from the charisma he has, he’s a great person.

“Despite the absences of Jude, who we missed, and of [Antonio] Rudiger, and all those [players] who are out injured for a long time, we keep showing that we’re a great team, that we’re Real Madrid.”


RB Leipzig had plenty of chances to score, testing out the Real Madrid keeper Andriy Lunin, who made nine saves.

He was also involved in a controversial moment when RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko had a goal controversially ruled out.


Sesko found the net with a header but the goal was ruled out for what initially appeared to be a slight nudge on Lunin by Benjamin Henrichs.

It later transpired that Henrichs was given offside for having interfered in play by obstructing the keeper from an offside position.