MANCHESTER: Real Madrid edged a further step along their route in pursuit of a record-extending 11th European champions’ crown by securing a goalless draw away to semi-final newcomers Manchester City.

Madrid were without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and their BBC strike force was weakened still further at the halfway stage when centre-forward Karim Benzema, another doubt before the game, was also withdrawn.

Neither side had managed an opening of any sort in a dull, tight first half notable more for sloppy passing by bother side. City’s only possible excuse was that top scorer Sergio Aguero was apparently hampered by a knee problem.

Not until the middle of the second half did Benzema’s substitute Jese provide the initial threat of the night with a header which bounced off the top of goalkeeper Joe Hart’s crossbar.

Gareth Bale pulled an angled shot wide of Hart’s right-hand post and then Jese might have had a penalty when he appeared to be bundled over by Nicolas Otamendi in a chase for the ball. Minutes later and Vincent Kompany was fortunate not to be penalised for a tired shove on the Welshman.

By this stage Madrid were looking increasingly threatening and City appeared to be tiring. Hart saved remarkably with his body when the ball popped up at the feet of Pepe in the goalmouth after a left-wing corner from Toni Kroos.

City enjoyed a late flurry in stoppage time and Kevin De Bruyne’s left-wing free kick forced keeper Keylor Navas into his first save, pushing the swerving ball over the bar.