'This is the life, innit' - Jack Grealish beams after 'dream' Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid & reveals Man City feel 'unstoppable' at home
- Grealish enjoyed playing Real Madrid
- Said City feel stronger than last year
- City host Madrid in second leg next week
WHAT HAPPENED? The England midfielder spoke of his joy after City held their own at the home of the 14-time European champions in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg, drawing 1-1 after Kevin De Bruyne's thumping long-range goal cancelled out Vinicius Jr's howitzer. And he believes his side are in a much stronger position than last year, when they were eliminated by Madrid in extra-time.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "I loved it, man. You can have a few nerves but these are the nights you play football for and dream of. At a stadium and a game like this, it's like a dream come true," Grealish told BT Sport. "I had a text from my mum before the game saying these are the nights you dreamed of as a kid. Everyone in the world was watching. Sometimes you pinch yourself. This is the life, innit."
Grealish was also delighted with City's performance at the Santiago Bernabeu, adding: "It's difficult. They let us have the first pass a few times and then had a high press. Playing against Carvajal, I can't count the amount of people who told me before you don't know what it's going to be like. Good battle, I really enjoyed it. I am tired. I've never had cramp before but I had it both calves. We've all seen games where they've conceded a few goals but tonight they defended really well. I thought we're only going to score from a shot on the edge of the box. When it fell to Kevin, it was unbelievable. We see it every day in training. You wouldn't choose anyone else for it to fall to."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: City suffered a painful elimination at the same stage of the competition last season when Rodrygo scored twice in added time before Karim Benzema clinched a 6-5 win on aggregate with a penalty in extra-time. But this time City have the advantage of playing the second leg at home, and they are unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium since November. They have won every match there since drawing 1-1 with Everton in December.
"We have a new team this year, different players. It's a year ago. We've learned so much since last year. We have the perfect balance of experience and world-class youngsters. I've never felt so confident going onto the pitch having the players around me," Grealish added. "At the Etihad, we feel unstoppable there. We came here to try to win, but it shows our character to go a goal down in a place like this. In the end I think it was a fair result. They had their chances, we had a few."
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WHAT NEXT? City turn their attentions to the Premier League title race on Sunday when they visit Everton looking to stay ahead of rivals Arsenal. They host Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg the following Wednesday.