MADRID: Real and Atletico de Madrid will make history in Milan at the end of the month when they repeat their 2014 duel in the UEFA Champions League Final.
The 10-times European champions reached the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza with a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Estadio Bernabeu thanks to 20th-minute own goal from Fernando. On Tuesday night cross-town rivals Atletico reached the final by defeating Germany’s Bayern Munich on the away goals rule.
Now they will meet Atletico on May 28 in a replay of their Lisbon clash which Real won 4-1 after extra-time.
City, in the semi-finals for the first time, appeared over-awed by the occasion and showed little belief or spirit until a late flurry, born of desperation for a goal. City had no option after having been held goalless at home by Madrid last week.
Zinedine Zidane, four months after succeeding sacked Rafa Benitez, is thus within 90 minutes of achieving the Champions League triumph he managed as a player with Madrid.
Madrid took the lead when a Gareth Bale cross was deflected past keeper Joe Hart by Fernando. Fernandinho clipped the Madrid post in a rare City chance but the hosts largely dominated as Bale hit the bar and Hart saved from Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wales forward Bale said later: “It doesn’t matter who scores or whether it’s an own goal or not. The main thing is we have a chance to win the Champions League again.
“I felt we were close to killing the game off but couldn’t get clear cut chances.
“The reason I came to Real Madrid was to win Champions Leagues. I’ve got one already and I have got another chance to win another.
“I feel like I am maturing. My Spanish is getting better and I’m integrating more with the team. I feel like I have turned a corner in that sense and I’m enjoying my football here.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini, a former Madrid boss, will thus end his three-year Manchester reign without a dream goodbye before being replaced by Pep Guardiola.
The departing Bayern coach may decide his inherited squad needs an injection of world-class talent to regularly compete with Europe’s elite.
Key centre-back Vincent Kompany’s early departure through injury left them lacking defensive organisation, while Yaya Toure’s return failed to add any intensity to a midfield lacking bite in the Bernabeu.
On Tuesday a decisive away goal from Antoine Griezmann edged Atletico beyond Bayern and into their second Champions League final in three years.
The France winger scored his 31st goal of the season as Atletico lost ‘only’ 2-1 in Munich and edged the semi-final on the away goals rule and 2-2 on aggregate. That left Pep Guardiola without the ultimate European prize to show for his time in Bavaria.
Bayern had 33 attempts on goal and 72pc of possession but it still was not enough to beat the gritty Spaniards.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Spain, Bayern levelled the tie through Xabi Alonso’s deflected free-kick. Atletico keeper Jan Oblak then saved Thomas Muller’s low penalty before Griezmann struck.
Atletico had not even managed a single touch in the Bayern penalty area before then.
Robert Lewandowski’s header set up a tense finish but Atletico held on even though Fernando Torres also missed a penalty.
Bayern, backed by a vociferous home crowd, desperately pressed for a third goal that would send them through.
However, they could not find a way past Oblak, who blocked David Alaba’s 20-yard volley in stoppage time.