MADRID: Real Madrid wrote yet another magnificent page in their own imperious history as they struck back dramatically to defeat Manchester City 3-1 after extra time and 6-5 on aggregate in their Champions League semi-final return.

Europe’s most prestigious club prize will not be decided between two Premier League outfits but between 13-times champions Madrid and Liverpool in a repeat of their duels in 1981 and 2018.

City went into the match leading 4-3, extended their lead in the second half through Riyad Mahrez but were then pulled back by two goals in two minutes in the last seconds from Madrid substitute Rodrygo. Karim Benzema struck the fatal goal from a penalty early in extra time.

Madrid will thus line up in the Stade de France on May 28 having stepped over Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and now City to do so.

City manager Pep Guardiola and his team are one point clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League with four games to go and can land their sixth title in 11 seasons but the Champions League is the one which matters above all to their Abu Dhabi owners.

Kyle Walker returned to City’s defence after an ankle injury as Guardiola made four changes from the team who beat Leeds 4-0 at the weekend. Joao Cancelo, who was suspended for the first leg, was also back on European duty.

Madrid began in more positive fashion than in Manchester. Karim Benzema put both an early header and then a shot over the bar before Vinicius also fired too high in the 17th minute.

City, encouraged at surviving the early phase, began to move forward themselves and Thibaut Courtois made sharp saves from Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden. Even so City still grateful to the pace of Walker to deny Vinicius and hold Madrid at bay in a goalless first half.

Madrid had failed to manage a single shot on target in the first half compared with City’s six. They sought to improve on that with a flurry of attacks after the interval but without success as City continued to cover effectively. Walker continued to frustrate Vinicius and Ruben Dias smothered Benzema.

City now forced a first admission of concern from Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti just after the hour as he sent on Brazilian winger Rodrygo in place of Toni Kroos. City sent on Ilkay Gudogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko in place of Kevin de Bruyne and Walker and both men shared in the move from which Riyad Mahrez shot City ahead.

Guardiola sent on Jack Grealish to kill the tie on the transition but twice he wasted clear chances. His wastefulness proved fatal as Rodrygo struck twice in two minutes to reward Ancelotti’s own gesture of faith. First he equalised on the night and then headed an equaliser on aggregate to send the tie into extra time.

Madrid continued on the front foot in extra time. Benzema had a shot well saved by Ederson but was then bowled over by Ruben Dias in pursuit of a cross from substitute Eduardo Camavinga.

Benzema beat Ederson from the spot, as he had in Manchester. His 43rd goal of the season and 15th in the competition put Madrid ahead in the tie for the first time. Benzema has also scored 16 goals in 21 Champions League against English clubs.

City have spent more than £1bn in winning 16 trophies since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group but still the holy grail eludes them. Will the pain of defeat upset their Premier title defence?