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The anticipated clash between Europe’s reigning champions and its eternal champions didn’t disappoint.

Manchester City and Real Madrid exchanged sensational goals in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, going blow-for-blow in an instant classic that was befitting a tournament final.

Federico Valverde landed the final punch in Tuesday’s slugfest at the Santiago Bernabeu. The versatile star responded to brilliant efforts from Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol with a textbook volley in the 79th minute to ensure the tie will head to Manchester for next week’s second leg level at three apiece.

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The pulsating affair started with Bernardo Silva catching Andriy Lunin unaware and scoring a long-range free-kick in just the second minute, only for Madrid to answer shortly after with two goals of their own in a manic two-minute spell.

The action didn’t slow down after the break, with the two sides trading brilliant tallies and setting up what promises to be a thrilling second leg.

“I think it was a really good, entertaining game, (it) dignified this competition,” Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said after the match.

His counterpart echoed that sentiment.

“I said yesterday, with all the quality we see on the pitch, of course it will be a fantastic game,” said Carlo Ancelotti. “A lot of quality, two fantastic teams, I think the result was right, correct.”


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