Real Madrid Femenino defeat Manchester City 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) to advance to the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage for the first time ever.
The game got off to a slow start. Both teams knew what was at stake in this must-win match. They tried to build from the back and were often forced long with central progression being stifled by the opposition defense.
Real Madrid defended well throughout the first half individually and as a unit. Kenti Robles made a crucial intervention on Lauren Hemp in the penalty area early in the match and Ivana Andres made it very difficult for any of the City attackers to get the ball in space.
Las Blancas had a half-chance in the 15th minute. A corner was swung into the City box and the ball bounced around on the doorstep but no one in white could poke a shot on target. Fifteen minutes later, Las Blancas had another chance. Athenea isolated her defender and tried to shoot. It was deflected to the top of the 18-yard box and Kaci hit it first time over the bar.
Nahikari Garcia scored what should have been the opening goal of the match in the 32nd minute. Esther brought down a long ball and played it to Claudia Zornoza. The midfielder’s through ball ricocheted off a City defender and to Nahikari, who finished brilliantly. The flag ruled the goal off but Nahikari was clearly onside.
Las Blancas would eventually score late in the half. Kenti Robles won a corner after firing a sizzling shot on goal. Teresa lofted the corner into the box. It was punched out to Zornoza, who struck the ball with force into the back of the net.
Manchester City started the second half with much more urgency, knowing that they needed a goal. In the 55th, Real Madrid gifted City a chance to equalize. Misa gave the ball away to Ellen White. She squared toward Caroline Weir but they couldn’t connect and Las Blancas cleared their lines.
City continued to push for the equalizer which left space to be exploited by Las Blancas. Athenea went forward at pace and was brought down. Teresa played a short free kick to Zornoza. She launched from distance and her shot rolled just wide.
The Cityzens responded with their best chance of the match. Hayley Raso drove into the box and fired with her right foot. The shot smashed off the bar and Las Blancas maintained their lead.
City came close to equalizing again in the 79th minute. A bouncing ball made its way to White in the 18-yard box. She flicked her header past the onrushing Misa but Babett Peter was there to dispel the danger.
The English side threw everything forward as time ticked off the clock but they were unable to break down Las Blancas. Real Madrid won the match 1-0 (2-1 aggregate) and advance to the UWCL group stage for the first time in their history.