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The biggest crime of all would be Kevin De Bruyne being denied his place on this stage

As Manchester City stare down the barrel of a two-year ban, it seems as if Pep Guardiola’s men are intent on leaving in the most impressive manner possible.

City hero Kevin De Bruyne.
City hero Kevin De Bruyne.
Image: Nick Potts

IF YOU’RE GONNA go, you might as well go with a bang.

As Manchester City stare down the barrel of a two-year ban from the Champions League for breaching Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules, it seems as if Pep Guardiola’s men are intent on leaving in the most impressive manner possible.

There is no chance of them going quietly out the back door or wiping their feet before the door hits them on the backside on their way out.

As the club’s lawyers prepare their appeal, it is performances filled with quality and honesty like this one which shows why City will be missed in the Champions League.

After being galvanised by falling behind against the run of play on the hour mark, Guardiola’s charges regrouped and stormed the barricades to take a 2-1 lead back to Manchester next month.

real-madrid-v-manchester-city-uefa-champions-league-round-of-16-first-leg-santiago-bernabeu Gabriel Jesus is congratulated after his equaliser. Source: Nick Potts

City arrived to Madrid wearing double denim, but it was a double of quick fire goals in the last quarter of an hour that stole the show in the Santiago Bernabeu.

Kevin De Bruyne was imperious. A leader and a warrior, he is a midfielder of such supreme talent that the biggest crime of all is that he may be denied his place on a stage like this one for the next two years.

This is where he belongs. He is so good you wonder if even those around him deserve to be there, too.

It was his curling cross from the left which set up Gabriel Jesus for a deft headed equaliser in the 77th minute. Six minutes later and the Belgian maestro was a vision of dead-eyed concentration as he sent Thibaut Courtois the wrong way from the penalty spot for his 50th goal for the club after Raheem Sterling had been brought down in the box by Dani Carvajal.

real-madrid-v-manchester-city-uefa-champions-league-round-of-16-first-leg-santiago-bernabeu Pep Guardiola points the way. Source: Nick Potts

There was still time for Sergio Ramos to be shown a straight red card for dragging down Jesus on the edge of the area as he bore down on Courtois. 

It was the final act of desperation from the Spaniard as Madrid, from a position of power with 30 minutes to go, saw it prised from their grasp.

City’s revival was not out of the blue. Isco had hit them with a sucker punch and they dug deep to regroup.

The sequence had gone as follows.

Chance for Manchester City.

Chance for Manchester City.

Chance for Manchester City.

Chance for Manchester City.

Goal for Real Madrid.

When Isco calmly slotted home in the 60th minutes it looked as if this would be another cruel lesson for this City team under Guardiola.

And then, the sequence continued.

Equaliser for Manchester City.

Penalty for Manchester City.

Winner for Manchester City.

That’s the story of the night, one written by Kevin De Bruyne.

But the job is not done and City know they now have to finish the job in Manchester.

With two away goals and their own supporters behind them – not to mention the added dimension of wanting to rub Uefa’s noses in it – all of a sudden a season that looked to be petering out has had new life breathed into it.

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