Jack Grealish hailed a "perfect" response from Manchester City as a 5-0 thumping of Newcastle United banished their Champions League blues. 

City will not be champions of Europe this season after their dramatic semi-final exit to Real Madrid, but they are red-hot favourites for the Premier League title after this weekend's turn of events. 

Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Tottenham, which halted the Reds' 12-game winning run in the league at Anfield, allowed City to pull three points clear on Sunday. 

With only three rounds of games remaining, City would have to throw it away. They have Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa to come, and the onslaught against Newcastle saw City go four ahead of Liverpool in the goal difference stakes too. 

As Grealish acknowledged, the destiny of the title is very much in City's hands. 

Grealish told Sky Sports: "We always knew there was going to be pressure on us today, especially after what happened in midweek, but we bounced back perfectly. 

"We've stuck together as a team and a unit in the past few days, which was needed. We'll just try to end the season strongly, and we've certainly done that today." 

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate against Madrid heading into the closing moments in the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, but Rodrygo's late double and a Karim Benzema penalty in extra time left Pep Guardiola's visitors shaken. 

"Today was a perfect response and a perfect performance," Grealish said. 

"We're in the driving seat. We can't look at what's going on around us. It's in our hands, and we have to go and win every game as we would anyway." 

It was the 30th time that City have scored five or more goals in a Premier League game since Guardiola took charge at the start of the 2016-17 season. 

Grealish teed up Oleksandr Zinchenko to cross for Phil Foden to score City's fourth, and the former Aston Villa man played in Raheem Sterling for the fifth in stoppage time. 

Rodri had earlier headed the third, and the Spanish midfielder said: "The personality we saw today was unbelievable – 5-0 after what happened [in Madrid] is incredible. 

"The mood wasn't very high as you can see, but on Friday the team woke up and focused on the game." 

Pointing to his head, Rodri added: "I think we do unbelievable work here. Sometimes it's more important than in the legs and that's what the champion teams do." 

Manchester City can sniff silverware after moving three points clear of Liverpool at the Premier League summit with a ruthless 5-0 win over Newcastle United.

Raheem Sterling started and ended this rout, with Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden also on the scoresheet as City made no mistake at the Etihad Stadium.

Rocked by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday, City did not play as though they were nursing a hangover from that bitter blow.

Pep Guardiola said the Madrid game was sure to be on his players' minds, but a welcome distraction arrived when title rivals Liverpool were held by Tottenham on Saturday, a major blow to the Reds' hopes. On this evidence, City should be celebrating a successful title defence back at this stadium in two weeks' time.

Newcastle's Chris Wood missed a glorious chance after eight minutes when he put a tame header straight at Ederson from Allan Saint-Maximin's cross, and from a corner moments later at the other end Laporte skied a close-range shot.

Joao Cancelo smashed wastefully wide after Kevin De Bruyne's cross from the left, but City were soon ahead. The opener came in the 19th minute when Ilkay Gundogan's floated pass was headed across goal by Cancelo for Sterling to nod in from close range.

Wood had the ball in the City net, but his close-range finish was disallowed for an offside against Bruno Guimaraes, and the hosts doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Martin Dubravka spilled Gundogan's 20-yard volley from a corner routine and Laporte bundled in.

Rodri made it 3-0 on the hour when De Bruyne's corner from the left found him at the near post, and the midfielder's header pinged low past Dubravka.

Oleksandr Zinchenko had a fierce drive tipped over by Dubravka as City looked to boost their goal difference.

They grabbed a fourth in the 90th minute when Foden converted from close range after Jack Grealish and Zinchenko combined on the left, and Grealish fed Sterling to drive home a fifth to rub it in for both Newcastle and Liverpool.

What does it mean? Who can stop City now?

Guardiola must take his team away to Wolves and West Ham before they host Aston Villa on May 22, the final Sunday of the season. Few would have expected Newcastle to take anything from this game, regardless of their improvement since the turn of the year.

Newcastle have never won a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium (D2 L15), losing each of their past 13 visits to the stadium now, and when Wood's feeble header let City off the hook early on, it was pretty clear that dire run was not about to end.

Sterling brings up his fifty

City's opener was notable for it being the 50th goal that Sterling has scored in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium. He added number 51 in the final seconds. Only one player has beaten that total, with Sergio Aguero bagging 106, including five in one game against Newcastle in October 2015.

City's set-piece supremacy

The goals from Laporte and Rodri stemmed from corners and were City's 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this season in the Premier League, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the competition since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

What's next?

City face a tricky trip to Wolves on Wednesday. Newcastle are not back in action until May 16, when they host Arsenal.

Erling Haaland looks set to announce his exit from Borussia Dortmund within days as the club prepare to lose their star striker. 

Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl, who will step up from his player licensing role to become sporting director at the season's end, said on Sunday that the club were braced for the 21-year-old to move on. 

Manchester City are reported front-runners for the signature of the Norway international, who joined Dortmund in late December 2019 after catching the eye at Salzburg. 

Kehl told German broadcaster Sport1: "I think we will have clarity next week. I wouldn't be surprised if he moves on in the end." 

Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have also been heavily linked with Haaland, but the prospect of a move to LaLiga has seemed to cool in recent months. 

Haaland's father, Alf-Inge, had a playing stint at City and the Dortmund striker was born in Leeds, so a move to England may hold particular appeal. 

Pep Guardiola, the City manager, has repeatedly declined to discuss the prospect of bringing in Haaland. 

However, with Champions League trophy success again proving elusive for City this season, acquiring a striker of Haaland's pedigree looks imperative for Guardiola. 

Dortmund are expected to sign Karim Adeyemi from Salzburg as Haaland's replacement, with Kehl also expecting movement in that direction in the coming week. 

Haaland has scored 28 goals in 29 games across all competitions for Dortmund this season, proving prolific despite his campaign being disrupted by injuries. He scored 41 times in 41 matches last term, his first full season in Germany. 

Daniel Sturridge has issued a rallying cry to his former club Liverpool after they dropped points in the Premier League title race.

The Reds were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday, giving rivals Manchester City a boost ahead of their clash with Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Should City win, they will go three points ahead of Liverpool with three games remaining.

Sturridge – who played for both teams either side of a spell at Chelsea – took to Twitter on Sunday to share his belief that "all isn't lost" for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Despite the setback in their title push, Liverpool still have Champions League and FA Cup finals to look forward to, having already secured the EFL Cup in February.

"To all the red men out there. All isn't lost," Sturridge wrote. "Big games ahead, a lot to play for. An unbelievable squad, backroom staff and ownership intact.

"The club has improved immensely in the last 10 years. My optimism for what @LFC are and will become hasn't wavered. #redordead"

The former England international played 160 games for Liverpool between 2013 and 2019, scoring 67 goals and registering 20 assists.

He left Anfield to sign for Trabzonspor before moving to Australia with Perth Glory.

The draw with Spurs was only the third time Liverpool have dropped points in a Premier League game since the turn of the year, and was the first time they have failed to win at home in the league since a 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in October.

Following their exit at the hands of Roma in the Europa Conference League semi-finals, Leicester City are at the fork in the road that faces every club their size following some success.

History says that sustainable progress will have to come at the expense of selling the players who got the club to such heights.

While James Maddison and Wesley Fofana have long been on the wish lists of bigger clubs, Youri Tielemans reportedly looks set to leave also.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL, REAL MADRID SET ON TIELEMANS

Arsenal are closing in on a £40million transfer for Leicester City and Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans, The Sun is reporting.

Real Madrid are waiting to pounce, however, if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.

Leicester are now reportedly resigned to selling the 25-year-old, whose goal won the Foxes the FA Cup last term. 

Tielemans has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, meaning Manchester United have dropped out of the race.

ROUND-UP

- Fernandinho appears set to leave Manchester City, despite having a year remaining on his contract, citing a personal decision, per Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham are looking to sign Villarreal's Pau Torres for a fee below his release clause of £55million (€64.3m), Football Insider reports.

- The Daily Star are reporting Nemanja Matic, who will leave Manchester United at the end of the season, is set to join Juventus.

- West Ham are leading the race to sign 23-year-old Chile international Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers, according to The Sun.

Joey Barton had cited Real Madrid's remarkable Champions League fightback against Manchester City as an example to Bristol Rovers before Saturday's promotion decider, but even he might have struggled to imagine the "footballing miracle" that unfolded.

Former City and Newcastle United midfielder Barton led Rovers into their final match of the League Two season outside the automatic promotion places on goal difference and so needing to better Northampton Town's result by five goals.

Still, boss Barton's focus was on what Rovers could achieve against already-relegated Scunthorpe United, rather than worrying about Northampton's result at Barrow.

"If we win 10-0, we're up, aren't we? It is in our hands in that way," he said, adding: "It's very rare you do someone by 10, but who knows?"

As it was, seven would do – tying a club record.

At half-time, Rovers were 2-0 up, but Northampton also led by two, 3-1 in front and coasting towards League One.

Having scored four in the second half of the previous week's sensational 4-3 win at Rochdale, Barton's side this time needed five in the same period.

But the one-time England international was not daunted by the challenge, having pointed to Madrid's turnaround that secured a Champions League final place.

"Madrid thought they were out of the Champions League, then they scored two goals in stoppage time," he had said. "It only takes a second to score a goal."

Rovers certainly did not lack ambition in pursuit of their unlikely aim, attempting 34 shots – the second-most by a team in a single League Two game this season.

Elliot Anderson, the Newcastle loanee dubbed 'the Geordie Maradona' following a comparison from Barton to the late Argentina legend, contributed to 15 of those efforts, taking eight shots himself and creating seven chances.

Following his signing, winger Anderson – who only ended up at Rovers after a Championship loan collapsed – led League Two in shot involvements (133) and ranked second for goal involvements (13).

It was no surprise then that the teenager, having supplied two assists, scored the decisive seventh goal in a 7-0 win while Northampton failed to add to their lead. Even Madrid would surely have been impressed.

"Incredible," Rovers owner Wael al-Qadi told BBC Sport. "It was fantastic to have experienced such a moment.

"The plan was to go for it. I never doubted this bunch of players. They went for it and look what happened. It's a footballing miracle."

Both the owner and Barton had taken to the pitch to plead with Rovers fans to return to the stands and allow the match to finish after Anderson's header.

"I can't describe it," Barton added. "It's probably something when I'm in my rocking chair, and the fact I've headed a lot of balls out at the near post area has caught up with me, I'll remember this favourably with Weetabix running down my chin.

"I'll be thinking of the scenes at the Mem on this day."

Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Real Madrid's dramatic Champions League turnaround against Manchester City showed Carlos Sainz he has plenty of time to get his Formula One season back on track. 

Riyad Mahrez looked to have done enough to deny Madrid a place in the final of Europe's premier club competition on Tuesday but two last-gasp goals from Rodrygo forced extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Karim Benzema's penalty then gave the Spanish giants a 6-5 aggregate semi-final victory to book their place in the showpiece match against Liverpool. 

Madrid fan Sainz is finding himself under pressure to turn things around at Ferrari, having been forced to retire in the opening stages of the previous two races. 

Ahead of this weekend's maiden Miami Grand Prix, Sainz joked that anything is still possible for him this season given the feat Madrid managed to pull off. 

"Missing the 600 kilometres [of the past two races] hurts me more than the zero points, because the kilometres are what make you learn about the car and the new regulations," he told AS. 

"I did a test in Imola in which I also had a problem, but we are recovering as best we can. It's part of the athlete's life. There are always better and worse moments. 

"The last two races have not been ideal – far from it – but we have also had a bit of bad luck. Now we want a clean weekend to try to recover. 

"Madrid had it worse. I have 19 races left. Madrid had five minutes left!" 

However, Sainz revealed that promotional duties meant he missed Rodrygo's late double. 

"It was amazing. I missed the last few minutes of chaos because I was in the middle of an event with Shell. It shows that nothing is decided until the last minute," he added. 

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have already achieved their aims by being contenders in every competition, insisting he was not brought to the Etihad Stadium to win the Champions League.

City's wait for European football's top club prize will go on after they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Real Madrid following an incredible semi-final collapse.

But in a lengthy response to a question about his players' chances of ever winning the competition ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against Newcastle United, Guardiola explained how the club view success differently from "the people" on the outside.

"I don't know [if this team can win it]," he said. "It's a question I cannot answer. Before Madrid, I did not know if we were able to win it.

"I don't have an answer to all your questions. Football is incredibly unpredictable – we saw it.

"This is my feeling, maybe I'm wrong: Abu Dhabi didn't buy this club and invest in these incredible facilities, invest in players, like a lot of other clubs in the world, to be what we lived the last years.

"It's not to win just the Champions League. They did it to be there in all competitions, in every season, compete, compete, compete until the end.

"In the Champions League, we want to do it – maybe I'm not good enough, nobody knows what happens with another manager – but we want to be there as much as possible in all competitions. For us, it's an honour.

"There are people who I know didn't appreciate what this club is doing. Maybe it's not enough, but for me it's incredible, remarkable.

"Being in the semi-finals of the Champions League again, after last season, making steps to be there and compete against an outstanding team in this competition, the way we did it, home and away...

"We were close – not close enough, because the team who wins deserves it – but we were there. This is my feeling.

"It always depends on winning the Champions League, winning the Champions League, winning the Premier League, winning the Premier League – nothing about what we have done since the takeover one decade ago, with all the players that went before, the managers that went before – it doesn't make sense.

"We will try again next season; it will be difficult, because the teams are good. I know the people want to be in that way, I accept it from day one, I have to handle it, but it's not a problem for me.

"It's not about that; it's about in the Premier League again being there, in the FA Cup semi-finals again, in the Champions League semi-finals, this season it could not happen but even the Carabao Cup four times in a row.

"This is where the club want to be. That's why they ask me to come here, for that.

"They never ask me to win any one title. They never ask me anything, the club, if anything just to play as good as possible and compete with all the teams in England and all the teams in Europe we have to play. It's completely opposite to what people think about it.

"I'm not saying it's fair or not fair; I'm not saying that.

"People say if they this group of players or this manager doesn't win a title, they're failures. I accept it, but I completely disagree, completely. We know how difficult it is, but I accept it.

"I'm not going to make it a thing where I am right and you're wrong. You can do whatever, say whatever, but as a club, the feeling that we have, it's to try to do it.

"We are sad, of course we are sad – we were close. The players wanted to play the final. But for this club to compete with Real Madrid the way that we did was a joy.

"How close we were, wow, but we could not do it, okay. I say congratulations to Liverpool and Real Madrid; if they are in the final, they deserve to be in the final.

"It's important that next season we are going to try; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again.

"And in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup next season, we want to go further than we were this season.

"This is when we became a club, you know, a club where this club is great, it's good. Look at all the big clubs in Europe, who every year are there, are there, are there; in the last years, we are there.

"Sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes you put in everything and you do not achieve it. What is the problem?

"Okay, we did not achieve it. The next day, you try to do it; in the good moments, take credit; in the bad moments, more sad than usual. The next day, you try to do it. The club is good for this."

Guardiola insisted he "cannot live" for European glory alone – and suggested City would be criticised even if they did win the Champions League.

Asked if the defeat gave him added hunger, he replied: "No, always I am starving.

"I know the people outside here demand Champions League, Champions League, Champions League, we know it, but I cannot live [just for that].

"The moment we win the Champions League, they'll say look at the money we spent. If not, they spent all that money and didn't win the Champions League. We are the only club in the world in the last 10, 15, 20 years who spent money."

Eddie Howe has revealed he will call a team meeting at Newcastle United to clarify comments made by Allan Saint-Maximin, who appeared to criticise his team-mates.

Saint-Maximin's interview with So Foot was published this week, in which the winger compared himself to Sadio Mane and said he would provide assists more regularly "the day when I have a player capable of finishing the actions".

The 25-year-old has only four assists this season despite creating 45 chances from open play – the eighth-most in the league and most outside the top six.

Callum Wilson, who has been out injured since December, remains Newcastle's top scorer with just six goals. Only Wolves (Raul Jimenez, also six) have had their leading marksman tally so few.

But Saint-Maximin did not intend to criticise his team-mates, Howe says, with both the player and coach seeking to ensure there was no "damage" to the team before a big game away at Manchester City.

"I saw the quotes, spoke with Allan," Howe said on Friday. "I think I need to make this clear that Allan's quotes didn't come across in the way he meant them to.

"He was concerned yesterday. We spoke, and in no way did he mean to damage the team and the unity that we've built. Of course, he said things in an interview, but, as I said, it wasn't in the context that he meant, although it happened.

"We'll be speaking with the squad and making sure there's no fallout from that, because unity has been our strength. It's vitally important that we keep that."

Regardless, Saint-Maximin and Newcastle will be boosted by the return of Wilson, who "looks in a good place and there's a good chance he'll be involved on Sunday".

England right-back Kieran Trippier is "slightly behind Callum" in his recovery but could still feature, while Howe is holding out hope for Fabian Schar to play despite missing training this week following an injury against Liverpool on Saturday.

Newcastle lost 1-0 to Liverpool and now face their title rivals City at the Etihad Stadium, where they have never won in the Premier League, losing their past 12 such matches.

Howe has been beaten in all 11 of his league games against City, including nine against Pep Guardiola – two competition records for one coach losing 100 per cent of their matches against any specific opponent or manager.

But City are coming off a painful Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, potentially making them vulnerable on Sunday, although Howe wants his team to improve, too.

"[The Champions League defeat] can work both ways," Howe said. "It can emotionally affect them in the positive or the negative.

"We will 100 per cent prepare for the best Manchester City, so we have to be the best Newcastle we can be. Looking back to last week, that was the disappointment for last week. We just missed the intensity in our work."

We are in the home stretch in the Premier League, which means everything is at stake – in the fantasy leagues, that is.

It is that time of the year when fantasy managers start to go over which games matter at opposite ends of the table to maximise points hauls.

Stats Perform has you covered with some Opta-powered recommendations below, so here are our suggestions for a new goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker.

EDERSON (Manchester City v Newcastle United)

Following their dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, there is a possibility Manchester City players might actually breathe fire on Sunday against Newcastle United.

It will likely mean sporadic and low-quality opportunities for the Toon and, ultimately, light work for Ederson in City's goal.

Another clean sheet for the Brazil international will see him record at least 20 in a Premier League season for the second time, the last being in 2018-19. The next best to Ederson's 90 clean sheets since 2017-18 is Liverpool's Alisson, with 64.

GABRIEL MAGALHAES (Arsenal v Leeds United)

Arsenal's Champions League hopes could hinge on this weekend, with nearest rivals Tottenham coming up against Liverpool. The Gunners need points against favourable opponents.

Only Chelsea's Reece James (five) has scored more Premier League goals for defenders this season than Gabriel's four for Arsenal, with all of them coming from corner situations.

With that in mind, Leeds are one of the five sides in the Premier League this season to have conceded at least 10 goals from corners.

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Liverpool v Tottenham)

However, Arsenal's need to pick up points against Leeds does not mean Tottenham players are off-limits, and Antonio Conte's side on the counter-attack are a tough proposition for any club in Europe.

Dejan Kulusevski has come to life at Spurs after a middling spell at Juventus, with no player in Europe's top five leagues providing more assists since his first start in the Premier League. 

On top of Kulusevski's eight assists, only Son Heung-min (15) and Harry Kane (14) have been involved in more Premier League goals than him (11) over the same period.

RICHARLISON (Leicester City v Everton)

Leicester's struggles in possession once again came to the fore on Thursday against Roma, and on Sunday they will have to back up against one of the Premier League's most dynamic players in transition.

Richarlison has almost single-handedly propelled Everton's push for Premier League survival, with six involvements in their last eight goals.

At this rate (12 goal involvements), the Brazil international is on track to match his tally of 16 from the 2019-20 season.

With his contract set to expire at the end of this season, Kylian Mbappe is reportedly going to sign a two-year extension with Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 23, has established himself as one of the world's premier players, with 24 goals and 16 assists in his 32 Ligue 1 fixtures this season, and six goals with six assists in eight Champions League games.

In his four seasons since arriving in Paris in 2018, he has won three Ligue 1 titles with one runners-up finish, but has never won the Champions League. A disappointing exit in the first knockout stage this campaign was supposed to push the young star out the door, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE ON THE BRINK OF PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN EXTENSION

Mbappe has been strongly linked with Real Madrid – often referred to as his 'dream club' – but he may snub the Champions League finalists for a deal Le Parisien reports is worth £42.5million per year, with an £85m signing bonus.

If he does opt to stay in France, it will have a significant domino effect as it would likely take PSG out of the discussion for a number of the world's most expensive players in the coming transfer window, and vastly increase Madrid's spending power if they had budgeted for his arrival.

While it appears at this stage that a deal is likely, The Mirror is reporting Mbappe's mum saying "there is no agreement in principle with Paris Saint-Germain or any other club".

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Star is reporting Pep Guardiola will sign a contract extension to keep him at Manchester City until at least 2025.

– Everton are prepared to sell goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to fund a rebuild, according to Talksport. Tottenham and Newcastle United are said to be monitoring the England international's situation.

– Jose Mourinho wants to bring Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Roma, per The Sun.

– The Sun is reporting Man City will compete with United for the signature of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

– According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen would prefer to join Arsenal instead of Man United or Newcastle.

Rodrygo has been congratulated by Brazilian legend Pele for his role in Real Madrid's incredible 6-5 aggregate win over Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

Having replaced Toni Kroos as a 68th-minute substitute shortly before Riyad Mahrez's goal put Madrid 5-3 down in the tie, Rodrygo scored an astonishing last-gasp brace to force a thrilling second leg to extra-time, where Karim Benzema's penalty sent Los Blancos to the final. 

The 21-year-old became the first ever player to score two 90th-minute goals in a Champions League knockout game, and just the second substitute to score a semi-final brace in the competition, after Georginio Wijnaldum for Liverpool against Barcelona in 2018-19.

After changing the course of the tie with two goals in a dramatic 91 seconds, Rodrygo, who has five caps for Brazil, received high praise from an iconic compatriot of his on social media. 

"I always knew the day to congratulate you would come, my friend," Pele wrote in an Instagram post, alongside a photo of himself and Rodrygo wearing the Selecao's famous yellow shirts.

"There is no other way for those who work hard and love what they do. You are enlightened and you will still bring us many joys, congratulations. I can't wait to watch the final!"

Rodrygo scored his first international goal in a 4-0 win over Paraguay in February, and has recorded eight goals and eight assists in a successful season with Madrid, for whom he has started 21 times in all competitions.

Madrid will face Liverpool in their 17th European Cup/Champions League final later this month. Los Blancos have now made the final at least six times more than any other club, and defeated the Reds on their last such appearance in 2018. 

 

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos revealed Carlo Ancelotti sought advice from senior players when making tactical changes in the incredible Champions League semi-final win over Manchester City.

A late double from substitute Rodrygo – who became the first player in Champions League history to score twice in the 90th minute of a knockout match – saw Los Blancos force extra time in Madrid. Karim Benzema's penalty then secured a 6-5 aggregate triumph and kept alive Madrid's hopes of a 14th crown in the competition.

Madrid boss Ancelotti has now reached a fifth Champions League final, having done so in 2003, 2005 and 2007 with Milan, and in 2014 and 2022 across two spells with the Spanish champions, and his introduction of Rodrygo, who replaced Kroos after 68 minutes, proved vital.

Fellow substitute Eduardo Camavinga also produced an outstanding display from the bench as Madrid qualified for their 17th European Cup/Champions League final.

Kroos, 32, revealed he and other senior players were asked for input on Ancelotti's switches, saying the Italian's ability to communicate with his players makes him an elite coach.

"The coach himself had a few doubts about who he would bring on and who not to bring on," Kroos told DAZN. "We [the players] have all seen a few football games ourselves. That allows you to exchange ideas a bit.

"That describes him really well and why things always work well with the team. It's outstanding. In the end he decides, but of course he's interested in our opinion."

Since 2003-04, which saw the introduction of the Champions League's last-16 knockout stage, Madrid became the only team to lose a game in each of the first three knockout rounds and still make the competition's final (losing 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16, 3-2 to Chelsea in the quarter-finals, and 4-3 to City in the semi-finals).

After Los Blancos set up a repeat of their 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, in which a Gareth Bale double won the Spanish outfit their 13th European title, Kroos said he was struggling to explain the team's remarkable ability to bounce back from falling behind.

"It's amazing, we were out 26 times during the knockout phase and fought back 26 times," he added.

"It's sometimes difficult to explain, even for me, what happened in the last few minutes. That's the belief, that's the stadium, the combination is magical."

Barcelona defender Dani Alves said "there is no such thing as luck" as he saluted fierce rivals Real Madrid's remarkable late comeback win against Manchester City.

The Spanish champions edged an epic semi-final with City 6-5 on aggregate on Wednesday to set up a showdown with Liverpool – a repeat of the 2018 final – in Paris on May 28.

Rodrygo scored twice in the space of 91 seconds to salvage extra time for Madrid, who trailed 5-3 on aggregate with less than a minute of normal time remaining.

Karim Benzema's penalty in the additional period sealed Los Blancos' passage through to a record-extending 17th European Cup/Champions League final, which is six more than any other team.

It is the third knockout round in a row that Carlo Ancelotti's men, who secured a second league title in three years at the weekend, have recovered from behind.

Indeed, since the Champions League format changed in 2003-04, Madrid are the first team to lose a match in the last 16 (1-0 vs Paris Saint-Germain), quarter-final (3-2 v Chelsea) and semi-final (4-3 v Man City) and still reach the final.

And Brazil international full-back Alves does not believe it is any coincidence that Madrid pulled off another almighty fightback.

"Just like in life, there is no such thing as luck," Alves posted shortly after full-time. "Either you dominate the game or the game dominates you."

Hailing the late impact of two-goal Rodrygo, who is the first player in Champions League history to score twice in the 90th minute of a knockout match, Alves added: "Ah, what would soccer be without the Brazilians!"

With 11 goals spread across the two legs, Madrid's memorable victory against City is the second-highest scoring semi-final in the competition's history, behind only Liverpool's 7-6 win against Roma in 2017-18.

The Reds await Madrid at the Stade de France later this month after surviving a scare of their own before seeing off Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate on Tuesday.

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