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Manchester City Vs. Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League 2012: A 1-1 Draw Is Enough As Madrid Pass Through The Group Of Death At The Etihad

It was a night that depended, to some extent, on results elsewhere. With the points in the group finely poised, Dortmund smashed Ajax 1-4, which meant that Madrid’s draw at the Etihad was enough to secure a spot in the last 16.

Shaun Botterill

Madrid lined up in a modified 4-3-3 – with Modric playing in a dual role that meant a far more fluid line-up than a trivote would suggest. Also: Madrid had considerably less of the ball than many observers might have expected with this line-up, but were far more effective with it when they had it, most especially in the first half.

Madrid dominated the first half, with Khedira, Ronaldo and Benzema impressing particularly. They had 9 shots at goal and scored when Angel di Maria sent in a cross finished by Karim Benzema who benefited from a momentarily sleepy Maicon who had failed to mark him.

In the second half, Manchester City began to dominate and Madrid retreated, defending tightly and attempting to score on the break. The game became niggly and ill-tempered and was subjected to a slightly erratic officiating performance from the referee.

The game turned for good when Arbeloa conceded a penalty in the box and was sent off. Commentators agreed that it was an accidental slip, but a goal-scoring opportunity had been denied and the referee showed him his second yellow. Madrid were down to 10 when Aguero scored Manchester City’s equalizing penalty.

The remaining 19 minutes + 5 minutes of stoppage time were played at a hectic pace with both teams going for the win. Although Mourinho’s substitutions were defensive, Madrid barrelled forward at every opportunity and continued to play a very high line.

In the final minutes of the match Iker Casillas made two point-blank saves.

A few final notes:

If David Silva plays well, Man City play well. Silva was anonymous for nearly an hour before completely dictating his side's pace, most especially after Arbeloa's sending-off.

Three or four obvious instances of obstruction on Cristiano Ronaldo as he broke up the field went unpunished (which is what led the commentators to label the officiating as "erratic"). Varane had an excellent cameo in the final minutes and Coentrao was probably Madrid’s best defender on the night.

At the other end, Sami Khedira was a consistent threat. Di Maria started a good game, but faded out after the first half-hour and had a poor game, with a passing average of 50%.

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