Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed Real Madrid vanished after conceding an equaliser to Manchester City before collapsing in a 2-1 home defeat in the first leg of the last-16 of the Champions League last night.
Madrid went in front courtesy of an Isco goal in the 61st minute, before City fought back to win the game thanks to Gabriel Jesus’s header, and a late penalty from captain Kevin De Bruyne.
The Premier League champions go into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on 17 March with a valuable advantage after scoring two away goals at the Bernabeu.
Speaking after the game, Wenger commended Raheem Sterling’s impact from the bench, explaining how the player played a vital role in City’s victory.
The former Arsenal boss thought that “City received a mental blow” after Isco’s goal “and for a while it looked more like Madrid would score a second goal rather than Manchester City equalising”.
“And then on 73 minutes Sterling came on for Bernardo Silva. On 78 minutes it was 1-1. On 83 minutes it was 2-1,” Wenger said.
“Gabriel Jesus played through the middle, with Sterling on the left, and that completely changed the game. From then on it always looked like City could score three or four goals and make it even more disastrous for Real Madrid tonight.
“But overall once City equalised, Madrid did not exist anymore.”
Sterling’s introduction did not only influence the performance of teammate Jesus, for it was the England international who won the game-winning penalty after being fouled inside the box by Real Madrid right back Dani Carvajal.
Pep Guardiola will now turn his attention to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa.