Good luck, Inter! Winners and losers as Man City monster Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final and move closer to the treble

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Bernardo Silva led the way for Pep Guardiola's side as they dethroned the European champions and booked their ticket to Istanbul

The best performance by Manchester City since Pep Guardiola's arrival? The best performance by Manchester City ever? Superlatives do not do what City produced against Real Madrid on Wednesday justice, and they will take some stopping in their quest to win the treble now.

Guardiola's side are now just three wins from becoming just the second English side to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the same season. Inter in Istanbul is all that stands between them and a first European Cup. Playing like this, it's difficult to see how they don't make this a historic campaign.

Bernardo Silva led the way against Madrid, his two first-half goals just rewards for 45 minutes of football that saw City have 13 shots on goal - the joint-most Madrid have faced in a first half of Champions League football since such statistics were first collected almost 20 years ago.

Second-half goals from Manuel Akanji, via an Eder Militao deflection, and Julian Alvarez ensured the final scoreline reflected City's dominance, and ensured Madrid suffered their joint-worst defeat in the competition.

For Carlo Ancelotti and his team, their European magic finally ran out, and time will tell whether the Italian coach will be kept on given his side's struggles in La Liga this season. On this evidence, they need more than just a new coach and Jude Bellingham to get to City's level.

For City, though, their season and how successful it is will now be decided over the next 24 days. By the end of it, they may well add three more pieces silverware to their ever-growing trophy cabinet.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from the Etihad Stadium...

  1. WINNER: Bernardo Silva
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    WINNER: Bernardo Silva

    Just two days after it was reported that Paris Saint-Germain had set their sights on the midfielder, Bernardo gave City every reason to tell any potential suitors to get lost. This was a career-defining performance. And it was not just because of the goals.

    The game was only a few minutes old when Bernardo weaved his way past Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Jr, and was then felled but somehow was not awarded a foul. He was at the heart of every move City made, so it was fitting that he opened the scoring, latching on to an incisive pass from Kevin De Bruyne and hammering it past Thibaut Courtois, who was in a confident mood.

    His second goal was less emphatic but no less impressive, as he followed the loose ball after Courtois had sent Ilkay Gundogan's shot into the air and glanced it into the net. He became the first player in a decade to score twice against Real Madrid in a Champions League semi-final, following in the footsteps of Robert Lewandowski (four goals for Borussia Dortmund in 2013) and Lionel Messi (two in 2011). And it's not like Madrid don't play many semi-finals.

    Bernardo signed his last contract with City in 2019 and it runs until 2025. But after a night like this, it shouldn't be hard for him to get a new one, especially if PSG are calling. With Gundogan at the end of his contract, City can't afford to lose both of their utterly brilliant midfielders.

  2. LOSER: Madrid midfield

    LOSER: Madrid midfield

    If Real Madrid had any reason for optimism coming to an Etihad Stadium that was this loud, it would be based on experience. Indeed, the cool heads of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have survived many a night like this — and some arguably even more difficult.

    But, for perhaps the first time ever, the duo went missing. Modric gave the ball away from the first minute, and was simply overwhelmed by a relentless City press. Kroos was a bit more steady on the ball, but constantly exposed in transition when Los Blancos didn’t have it. Fede Valverde, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found.

    There are already and will be more reinforcements on the way. Jude Bellingham seems likely to arrive, while Aurelien Tchouameni will certainly improve. But this trio, complete with two of the game’s greats, fell apart on Wednesday.

  3. WINNER: Pep Guardiola
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    WINNER: Pep Guardiola

    The Catalan has suffered some of the worst moments of his otherwise remarkable coaching career against Real Madrid. There was the 5-0 aggregate thrashing when he was coach of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals in 2014. And there was last year's agonising defeat, when City lost the semi-final second leg by conceding twice in added time, which Guardiola compared to "swallowing poison".

    It would have been easy for him to have tried something different, but instead he stuck with what he knew best and trusted that his players would make no mistake this time.

    On Tuesday, Guardiola joked he would not "over-think" the game too much as he has been criticised for doing in the past, insisting he had "nothing special" planned. That was not entirely true. This was a truly special performance and was not the result of an inspired one-off tactical innovation.

    It was instead exactly what City have been doing this season, and in particular the last three months, which is to blow teams out of the water. This season, Guardiola's side have beaten Manchester United 6-3, Liverpool 4-1, Tottenham 4-2, Arsenal 4-1, RB Leipzig 7-0, Bayern Munich 3-0 and now Real Madrid 4-0. A simply stunning set of results, and Guardiola has been the mastermind of them all.

  4. LOSER: Eduardo Camavinga
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    LOSER: Eduardo Camavinga

    Camavinga has, effectively, been playing out of position for nearly four months. Naturally a defensive midfielder, he has done a fine job at left-back. But on Wednesday, he was finally exposed.

    It was a shame that his first big blunder as a full-back came on the biggest stage, when he was entirely lost as Bernardo snuck into the box for City’s opener. But perhaps that revealed his clear issues at the position. Camavinga is a fine one-on-one defender, who can hunt the ball down in central areas, but defending space, as he had to do here, has never been his strong suit. City exploited that to no end.

    After a night like this, he might want to be moved back to his more traditional spot on a more permanent basis.

  5. WINNER: The Etihad faithful
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    WINNER: The Etihad faithful

    City have had to shoulder all types of jokes about the quiet atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium and wavering attendances over the years. Even Guardiola has pointed his finger at the supporters at times. But of late, they have helped turn their stadium into an unforgiving place for visiting teams, and this was a night to savour.

    It began with thousands of fans greeting the arrival of the team bus with deafening chants and thick blue smoke. When Blue Moon and Hey Jude were played before kick off, every single City fan in the stadium sang along. And when the game began, the fans matched the team's relentless intensity.

    Madrid, who had fought their way back into the tie last year with the help of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd, simply wilted under the pressure.

    Before the game Guardiola had said, "I know the fans will not leave us alone, they will be with us in the tough moments". He was right about one thing, but wrong about another. There were no tough moments, but the fans kept singing anyway.

  6. LOSER: Inter
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    LOSER: Inter

    Are you sure you want to play this, Inter? Would surrender, perhaps on agreeable terms, be an answer? Are you able to settle for a point in a Champions League final?

    Madrid were well short of their best here, but Los Blancos were supposed to be City’s most ready challengers for European glory. And although Inter have enjoyed a fine second half of the season, they don’t appear any more equipped to beat City than Madrid.

    Simone Inzaghi will undoubtedly have a plan and come into the game believing he has a team that is capable of winning. And to rule it out altogether would be a disservice to the Nerazzurri and their achievements in cup competitions this year.

    But on the evidence of Wednesday, few will give them a chance. Still, stranger things have happened in football...