Madrid, City draw 1-1 in Champions League semifinals

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, right, duels for the ball with Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, center, during the Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
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MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid and Manchester City drew 1-1 in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday after long-range strikes by Vinícius Júnior and Kevin de Bruyne.

Vinícius put Madrid ahead with a shot into the top corner in the first half and De Bruyne equalized for the visitors with a powerful one-time shot in the second half.

The second leg will be played next week in Manchester. The first leg of the other semifinal between Italian rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan is on Wednesday.

Madrid beat City in last year’s semifinals and went on to win a record-extending 14th Champions League title while the English club again fell short of European success.

“It was a shame that we conceded that goal,” Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said. “I think we deserved more. They had more possession but didn’t create a lot of chances. It’s still 50-50 and we will go into the second match with confidence.”

City controlled possession but couldn’t translate it into significant scoring opportunities. Erling Haaland wasted a few chances early but wasn’t much of a threat throughout the game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The Norwegian came into the match having scored 12 of City’s 26 goals in the Champions League this season and was five short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s single-season record of 17 for Madrid in 2013-14.

Vinícius created problems for the City defense and opened the scoring in the 36th with his seventh Champions League goal this season. The Brazil forward picked up a pass by Eduardo Camavinga and used one touch to set up his right-footed shot from outside the area.

City struggled to come close to Madrid’s goal but De Bruyne found the net in the 67th with a firm one-timer from outside the area after Madrid lost possession because of a poor pass across the field by Camavinga.

Haaland had not yet joined City when it lost 6-5 on aggregate to Madrid in last year’s semifinals. Vinícius, Rodrygo and Karim Benzema combined for all of Madrid’s goals that time.

Madrid is making its 11th semifinal appearance in 13 seasons and is trying to win its sixth title in 10 years. City played in its first Champions League final two seasons ago, losing to Chelsea.

Madrid, which won the Copa del Rey title this past weekend, is virtually out of contention in the Spanish league and can fully focus on the semifinal against City. The English side remains in the middle of a tight title race in the Premier League. ___