Manchester City will face Inter Milan at the 2023 UEFA Champions League (UCL) final in Istanbul on June 10th, after they thrashed Real Madrid 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to complete a 5-1 semi-final aggregate victory over the deposed European champions.
For the third time in a decade, the winner of a tie between these two sides would progress to the ultimate showpiece. Real came out on top on the two previous occasions, while last year’s triumph for the Spanish giants in this competition left a particularly bitter taste in City’s mouths, as two late Rodrygo strikes put the Galacticos through. Fast forward 12 months, and City wasted no time in gaining sweet revenge by immediately playing Real off the park with their trademark crisp passing and relentless running.
Such was City’s early dominance, undisputed Premier League goal king Erling Haaland could have had a brace by the midway point of the opening period, and was only denied by two stunning Thibault Courtois saves. But the Belgian goalkeeper’s unparalleled reflexes could only rescue his teammates so many times, and City finally broke the deadlock within 120 seconds of Haaland’s second effort. Alert and deadly as ever, Bernardo Silva dispatched Kevin De Bruyne’s pinpoint through ball with aplomb to send the home crowd into raptures.
This Real side can never usually be written off though, and a series of passes in behind City’s backline were only slightly overhit. And had Ederson not got the slightest of touches to Toni Kroos’ rasping drive from distance, the ball may well have nestled into the top corner instead of crashing the crossbar. However, City were still by far the better team before the half time whistle, and they doubled their advantage with the interval fast approaching. Silva was again the hero, nodding an unmarked header into the top corner and leaving Carlo Ancelotti’s charges with a mountain to climb.
As Real’s hopes of a fifth UCL success in ten editions continued fading before their eyes, David Alaba almost halved the deficit in the 51st minute, forcing Ederson into another crucial stop from a free-kick. But it was a fleeting change in direction, and Courtois soon denied Haaland once more at the other end, when it seemed inevitable that the Norwegian phenomenon would finally get himself on the scoresheet.
However, the final nail in the holders’ coffin eventually came when Éder Militão bundled Manuel Akanji’s flick on into his own net, before Julián Álvarez slotted beyond Courtois in injury time. It was ultimately an easy night for City, who have now won all of their previous 15 European home matches and can now look forward to a second UCL showpiece in three seasons. With the Premier League effectively wrapped up and an F.A Cup final against Manchester United still ahead of them, a historic treble to match the one their rivals famously attained back in 1999 has never felt closer.