Soccer-Ancelotti proud as Real Madrid dig deep for revenge in Manchester

Soccer Football - Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Manchester City v Real Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 17, 2024 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti looks on REUTERS/Molly Darlington

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was beaming with pride after his team dug deep for long periods on Wednesday to keep Manchester City at bay and squeeze past them on penalties into the semi-finals of the Champions League.

"I love it when a team gives their all and sacrifices everything in big games like this one," he said after a pulsating two-legged quarter-final that ended 4-4 on aggregate before the Spanish side triumphed 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

It was sweet revenge for Real Madrid, who were thrashed 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in their exit from the Champions League at the semi-final stage last year.

"I believe that there was no other way to beat Manchester City here. I'm proud of what we did," added Ancelotti, who paced nervously up and down the touchline during the shootout until defender Antonio Ruediger scored the winning kick.

"By the time the penalty shootout came, we were totally convinced we'd go through. You work, sacrifice and win however you can.

"We defended really, really well tonight. This was about survival. Madrid is a club based on always fighting to stay in situations where there seems to be no way out – but we always find a way."

Ancelotti said his counterpart, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, had been generous in defeat despite the frustration of seeing his team dominate possession but fail to win in Wednesday's second leg 1-1 draw.

"Pep Guardiola is a gentleman, always has been. He congratulated us, wished us good luck and that's what a real gent does," he said.


After taking an early lead, Ancelotti's men were pressed back throughout the game, conceding late on but then hanging on through extra time until the penalties.

"We started well and scored in the beginning but the game changed, they pressured us and our plan was not to defend that deep but it's a big game and you need to fight.

"We have seen Real Madrid do this many times before, a club that brings something out that nobody thought we would have."

Real Madrid's English midfielder Jude Bellingham was exhausted but elated after their defensive masterclass.

"You put so much into the game. I've played against City before and they snatch it away from you. I was pretty much dead on my feet at the end," he said.

"It's so difficult. They are continuously probing with the ball and move you around. Most teams would fall apart when City get on top of you but we stood up really well ... Today it came down to mentality. It's beautiful. My brother is here today, the first time he's seen me play for Madrid."

Real Madrid captain Nacho echoed his boss' pride.

"We are not used to play defensively like we did today, usually it's the other way around. But to play here at this stadium and against this great team requires making sacrifices and today we put in an incredible defensive performance that we should be proud of," he said.

"We've suffered a lot because City are a very strong team that put you against the ropes, but we are Real Madrid and we fought until the end, what matters is that we are in the semi-finals. These are magical nights and I have goose bumps. It's one of those ones you dream of as a child."

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Manchester, Fernando Kallas in Madrid; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Toby Davis)

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