Bernardo Silva displayed goalscoring like Erling Haaland as Manchester City beat Real Madrid 5-1 on aggregate to reach the UEFA Champions League final.
Silva is far from being a Haaland clone, but the versatile attacking midfielder displayed the scoring instincts the prolific Norwegian would be proud of.
If these players were in the next set stacked dollHarland is the biggest and it will be a while before we find Silva.
Real Madrid also had trouble finding him. As if disguised as one of them, he slipped behind the midfield with the defenders.
It was a key maneuver in the space race and City more than adequately dealt with the challenge of finding the limited space to win the tie.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, were able to work in half the pitch thanks to City’s high defensive line. The problem was that the Real players didn’t get the ball behind them often enough.
City’s space is much smaller and just as important as Silva found the area in the opposition’s half in the opening goal was that Kevin De Bruyne was able to get the ball into it.
If anyone can do it, so can De Bruyne, and it was one of the easier tasks for him, after all. He sent a pass of perfect weight to Silva, who took it well and found a relatively long time to think about what to do, showing his cool in seconds, not milliseconds.
He got Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to look at the far post before putting the ball inside the near post. It was another Haaland signature, a strong left-footed finish.
Courtois had saved Haaland’s two headers so far to keep his side in the game, the second of which was particularly impressive.
Silva himself rarely scores a header, but he did in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich, and it was Haaland’s trick to add the extra and take City to the final in Istanbul. I put it in orbit.
It was an instinctive take for the 28-year-old who was in the right place at the right time after Ilkay Gundogan’s shot hit Eder Militão and strayed into goal.
Real changed their approach after 20 minutes into the first half. Instead of trying to punt the ball past City’s defense, they started trying to get past punts by playing more back.
The home side enjoyed more than 80 per cent possession for most of the first half as they had more time to return the ball to City.
There was a special moment when Luka Modric found himself in possession of the ball in midfield and carried the ball a little but none of his 10 team-mates could pass.
City’s suffocation against Real eased somewhat in the second half when the Spanish visitors and current cupholders enjoyed some possession.
Having fun might be an understatement considering City’s press was stifling, but Real still had some possession of the ball. Sometimes even in enemy lines.
But the best chance of the first half to that point still lay with Haaland, but the genius goalscorer was once again thwarted by a top save from Courtois, who threw a shot over the bar with a knee kick.
Manuel Akanji matched De Bruyne’s cross to give Militao the lead and City equalized shortly after.
City began resting their main players, but the energetic Silva remained on the pitch. He dropped down to midfield in place of Gundogan and showed versatility as substitute Riyad Mahrez took over Silva’s previous position on the right flank.
Phil Foden delivered a pass to Julian Alvarez, joined by two other substitutes, who added their fourth goal of the night to make it 5-1 on aggregate.
City are well positioned for this final as they seek a first-ever Champions League trophy, but if they do, it will again be the players who find the best places to make a difference in this game. . Perhaps next time he will join the scoresheet with Haaland.
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