Everyone Thought The Ref Would Blow His Whistle, Only Bernardo Silva Played On

Everyone stopped. Well, almost everyone.

Bernardo Silva heeded that ageless piece of wisdom taught to every young soccer player around the world: Play to the whistle. He was rewarded with a stunning goal, the fourth in Manchester City’s 4-3 win over Real Madrid on Tuesday in the Champions League semifinals.

Pep Guardiola’s Man City was at its imperious, free-flowing best on Tuesday night at the Etihad for the first leg of what will no doubt be a memorable semifinal tie with Europe’s most successful club. But every time the home side looked like it might run away with a big win, Los Blancos fought back with a goal of their own. 

The winner, it turned out, came thanks to a bit of stick-to-itiveness from the diminutive Silva. 

The moment arrived in the 74th minute. Toni Kroos had just crushed Oleksandr Zinchenko on the edge of the area, and for a moment the world stood still. Everyone expected Romanian referee István Kovács to blow his whistle to set up a Man City free kick. Instead, Kovács waited a moment to see if any advantage was available. 

Silva took that moment and made it his own.

Bernardo Silva Goal vs Real Madrid

Bernardo Silva, thanks to a moment of hesitation from the Real Madrid defenders, was able to pounce on the ball, take a couple of dribbles and smash a top-bins shot inside Thibaut Courtois’ near post. The goal proved vital as Karim Benzema scored his second and Real Madrid’s third in the 82nd minute. 

We’re set up for a thrilling second leg back in the Spanish capital on May 4. 

Man City vs Real Madrid Highlights (2022 UCL Semis First Leg)

Before Silva’s goal, the moment of the match belonged to Real Madrid’s rapacious winger Vinícius Júnior, who made it 3-2 with a solo goal that seemingly replicated one of the greatest moments in another winger’s Real Madrid career. 

Here’s Vini’s goal.

And here’s a goal that looked awfully similar, scored by Gareth Bale against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.

Fortunately for Real fans, the 21-year-old Vini doesn’t seem like much of a golfer. Vini used his guile more than pure pace, but both goals were incredible displays from the left wing. 

The entire match was incredible from start to finish. Kevin de Bruyne scored the fastest goal in Champions League semifinal history in the 93rd second courtesy a lovely lob from Riyad Mahrez. 

Man City doubled its lead in the 11th minute through Gabriel Jesus.

Linked to Arsenal in the last week, the Brazilian has been playing like he wants to stay in Manchester. He scored four against Watford on Saturday and scored again Tuesday thanks to some less-than-stellar defending from Real Madrid.

Real Madrid answered through none other than Benzema, who already has two hat tricks in the UCL knockout rounds this season. He scored two on Tuesday, the first of which was the first time Man City conceded in the entire knockout rounds. 

Benzema now has nine goals in the knockout rounds alone this season, 41 in all competitions. He also scored this delightful Panenka in the 82nd minute to keep Real Madrid within a goal heading into the second leg.

You’ll be forgiven if you’ve lost count, but there was one more goal on the night.

It came via Phil Foden’s head after Fernandinho, a first-half injury replacement for John Stones, found the young Englishman wide open in the box.

Now we breathe, if only for a moment, lest Bernardo Silva score again. 

A few weeks ago, I said Real Madrid’s extra-time win over Chelsea in the quarterfinals was one of the great Champions League games of all time, but Tuesday’s match may have been even better. 

The Real Madrid-Man City second leg will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 4, at the Santiago Bernabeu. Only a fool would miss it. 

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