When an Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick with five minutes to go put Manchester City ahead 2-1 at the Bernabeu tonight, I thought they were going to hold on for a famous victory.
But one thing the Premier League Champions have shown this season is an inability to defend like they did last year. And that cost them the game as Real Madrid scored two goals in the last three minutes to break City’s hearts.
And it figures that the winner would be Ronaldo. The former Manchester United strikers goal in the last moment brought the Madrid fans to their feet and Jose Mourinho to his knees as he slide across the pitch in celebration.
Last season in the Champions League, City’s inexperience got them knocked out in the group stages and it could happen again. Potential Champions League winners do not throw away a lead with three minutes to go away from home.
After going 2-1 up, there have to be some questions asked of Roberto Mancini’s tactics. Mancini gave defender Matija Nastasic a surprising debut tonight and it was Nastasic who failed to prevent Benzema from turning on the edge of the box and finding the bottom corner to make it 2-2. Would Lescott, who was dropped for this game, better?
And why was Zabaleta left one-on-one with Ronaldo with one minute to go? Zabaleta let Ronaldo turn into the box and shoot, instead of forcing him to go wide and cross the ball. Having someone help out Zabaleta could have prevented the Madrid winner.
There is a reason why Inter Milan fired Roberto Mancini and replaced him with Jose Mourinho. It was because of Mancini’s inability to lead Inter past the Champions League quarter-finals, despite winning the league three times.
As for Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid, the win will ease the pressure that has been griping the team. But, Madrid will not win the Champions League with this defence. Their inability to defend set pieces is shocking. It was a problem last season and continues to be this season as Real Madrid have now conceded four goals from set pieces.