Arsenal and Man City ties left on knife-edge after crazy Champions League night as Gunners cry foul over late penalty call

Both English teams draw in first legs of their glamour ties

After an enthralling night of Champions League football, the quarter-final ties involving holders Manchester City and Arsenal are finely poised after the respective first legs. At the Bernabeu, Real Madrid and Manchester City drew 3-3 in a rollercoaster encounter, while Arsenal and Bayern Munich played out a 2-2 draw at the Emirates.

Let’s start in the Spanish capital. Ultimately, Manchester City face a battle to retain their Champions League crown after being held by Real Madrid. The holders twice led in an captivating contest under the Bernabeu’s new roof but the quarter-final remains poised after Federico Valverde gave the hosts a deserved share of the spoils.

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Bernardo Silva got City off to a flying start but a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort sent Real in at half-time of Tuesday’s first leg 2-1 ahead. Phil Foden equalised for City with a brilliant strike and Josko Gvardiol put them back in front but Valverde had the final word to set up another intriguing contest at Etihad Stadium next week.

Bukayo Saka and Arsenal believed they should have been given a late penalty against Bayern Munich.Bukayo Saka and Arsenal believed they should have been given a late penalty against Bayern Munich.
Bukayo Saka and Arsenal believed they should have been given a late penalty against Bayern Munich.

City missed the creativity and influence of Kevin De Bruyne who, having been feeling unwell, was sick soon after the team arrived at the stadium. That forced manager Pep Guardiola to make a late change to his plans and bring Mateo Kovacic into the starting line-up.

The visitors initially seemed unaffected both by that and the raucous atmosphere Real had attempted to amplify by closing the roof at their newly-remodelled 85,000-capacity arena. They were quickly onto the front foot and were given their early chance to take the lead when Aurelien Tchouameni crudely halted Jack Grealish to earn a booking that will keep him out of the second leg. With Real failing to form a wall, Silva took full advantage and caught goalkeeper Andriy Lunin napping as he thumped a left-foot shot into the bottom corner after just two minutes.

It had seemed the perfect start for City but Real hit back with two quickfire goals. The equaliser came after a patient build-up as Eduardo Camavinga charged forward and fired a long-range shot that took a wicked deflection off Dias and gave Stefan Ortega – starting despite Ederson’s presence on the bench – no chance. The hosts grabbed the lead just moments later as Rodrygo broke clear down the left and outpaced the backtracking Manuel Akanji before delicately poking the ball past Ortega.

City began to get sloppy in possession as Real upped the pressure. The normally solid Rodri looked laboured and Vinicius Junior tested Ortega before the break. Grealish cut inside but missed the target as City tried to re-establish themselves early in the second half but Real regained control with Jude Bellingham and Vinicius going close.

Antonio Ruediger of Real Madrid and Erling Haaland of Manchester City shake hands after the draw in the Spanish capital.Antonio Ruediger of Real Madrid and Erling Haaland of Manchester City shake hands after the draw in the Spanish capital.
Antonio Ruediger of Real Madrid and Erling Haaland of Manchester City shake hands after the draw in the Spanish capital.

Lesser sides could have folded but City underlined their enduring class as they not only weathered the storm but pulled themselves back into the game with a stunning strike from Foden. The England international, who had been enduring a frustrating game, caught Lunin unaware as he lashed a ferocious strike into the top corner from outside the area after 66 minutes.

It was soon to get better for City as Gvardiol bagged his first goal for the club with an equally thunderous long-range effort five minutes later. Yet, in keeping with a compelling encounter, it was not to be the end of the scoring as Real responded yet again. This time Valverde was the player on target as he met a Vinicius cross with a fine volley that flew past Ortega.

Back in noryh London, Harry Kane was denied a fairytale return as Arsenal hit back to claim a 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich. Tottenham’s all-time record scorer claimed his 15th career goal in 20 appearances against the Gunners by converting a first-half penalty to put the German club on course for victory at a raucous Emirates Stadium. But substitute Leandro Trossard left the tie perfectly poised ahead of next week’s return match with a 76th-minute equaliser after Bukayo Saka’s early opener was cancelled out by former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry.

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Six-time European champions Bayern almost snatched a 90th-minute winner when Kingsley Coman struck a post, while Saka was denied an added-time spot-kick following a challenge from Manuel Neuer in a breathless finale. England captain Kane played the role of pantomime villain throughout and, aside from registering his 39th goal of a remarkable season, could have been sent off for swinging an elbow into the neck of Gabriel.

Harry Kane netted on his return to north London.Harry Kane netted on his return to north London.
Harry Kane netted on his return to north London.

The presence of ex-Tottenham pair Kane and Eric Dier, plus Gnabry, added extra intrigue to a mouthwatering match while the sold-out stadium was without travelling fans due to a UEFA sanction imposed for supporters throwing fireworks on to the pitch in Bayern’s last-16 win over Lazio.

Thomas Tuchel’s men were greeted by a deafening noise from the partisan crowd and the ground was rocking with just 12 minutes on the clock thanks to Saka’s magic. The England international was freed inside Bayern’s area by Ben White following defensive dithering and duly produced a sumptuous first-time curling finish into the bottom left corner to spark jubilation in the stands.

White should have recreated those scenes when he squandered a golden chance by firing straight at fit-again Bayern goalkeeper Neuer after being slipped clear by Kai Havertz before the Gunners gifted their opponents an 18th-minute equaliser. Gabriel sloppily conceded possession following a miscommunication with David Raya, culminating in Gnabry latching on to Leon Goretzka’s through-ball to finish through the legs of the Gunners keeper.

Arsenal came into this stage of the competition for the first time since 2010 on the back of four consecutive clean sheets. But their usually reliable backline once again creaked in costly fashion with half an hour played as Kane delighted in silencing the terraces. Leroy Sane’s mazy run from halfway was halted only by the dangled leg of William Saliba and, after Raya moved early, Kane coolly rolled the ball into the bottom right corner from 12 yards to further torment Spurs’ fiercest rivals.

With time ticking away and a frustrating evening on the cards, Mikel Arteta’s Premier League leaders levelled. Gabriel Jesus worked space inside Bayern’s box before teeing up fellow replacement Trossard to slot into the bottom left corner beyond Neuer and raise the decibel levels.

Bayern substitute Coman poked against the frame of the goal as a helter-skelter encounter threatened another twist before Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg was booed off for failing to punish Neuer’s potential trip on Saka.

The second legs take place next Wednesday at 8pm. Bring on the next act.



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