Manchester City and Real Madrid's tie was left hanging in the balance after a tedious first leg which ended scoreless at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City 0 - 0 Real Madrid
Joe Hart's wonder save which stopped Pepe at point blank range ensured that the Citizens have a fighting chance of making it to the Champions League final for the first time in their history.
But Real Madrid, wounded by a late injury blow which ruled Cristiano Ronaldo out of the fixture, will be savouring the opportunity to open up more when the tie returns to the Bernabeu, following a game where the defensive strengths of both sides were on full display.
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Manuel Pellegrini eagerly spectated from the sidelines as his men reflected the attitude looking to drag Real Madrid into a real scrap on the evening, highlighted by Otamendi's early challenge when he brought down Benzema during a charge towards the final third.
Sergio Ramos kept the Spaniards' defensive line relatively tight to sniff out the danger when the opposing midfielders looked to slip a through ball into dangerous territory. Speaking of midfield, the battle lines were drawn early on, with Casemiro leaving a mark on Fernandinho with a late tackle.
Although the Citizens didn't threaten significantly, they were definitely increasing the pulses of their opposition with some relentless pressure. Luckily for the visitors, Jesus Navas had no one to find with his cross after Fernandinho raced on to an interception when the back four were being compounded.
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But way before that, Zidane's counterpart for the occasion was forced into an early change himself, as David Silva hobbled off for Iheanacho, sustaining an injury.
In the second half the tempo was as needed, upped. Sergio Aguero let fly from long range early, to signal the intent from City to stun the ten-time European champions.
Despite being inclined to sit back, soak up pressure and bring it all square back to the lions den for the return fixture, Real Madrid were still up at it as they began to really add up the chances when sitting around the final third.
However, the counter attacking threat remained potent on City's part, when Kompany's challenge catalysed a move which ended when De Bruyne was felled around the middle of the park.
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City fans had their hearts in mouths when Jese managed to beat Fernando in the air to target a dipping header towards goal, and just as it was appearing to creep over Joe Hart, it landed on the woodwork.
Gareth Bale, who until a few minutes prior had been virtually invisible in the game, was now helping out the search for a pivotal away goal. He cut in on to his left foot when he encroached into the box but his low curled effort was just wide.
Nicolas Otamendi was then once again at the subject of cries for a penalty, just as he was when Gareth Bale appealed in the first half. This one was far more clear cut however, as the Argentine came across Lucas Vasquez and sent him tumbling to the ground but he was let off - on another night the case may have been very different.
Joe Hart once again came to the rescue to deny Casemiro around the 80th minute by thwarting a low headed attempt by sticking a foot out to keep his side in the game. But from another subsequent corner, he would top the lot with one of the saves of the season.
With stoppage time being counted on, Real focused on keeping possession while City did all they could to chase them down. Iheanacho and Sterling's intrinsic runs caused some trouble but not enough to make the difference.
Kevin De Bruyne stung the palms of Keylor Navas with a free kick from the left late on, but the game finished goalless. Balanced after a cagey, defensive encounter.
Ronaldo absence leaves major void: With Cristiano Ronaldo excluded from the game due to a hamstring injury, the attacking work load was shifted solely on the shoulders of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. The Welshman struggled throughout the first period as did his striking partner who made way for Jese at the interval, and while he did create some threats towards the end of the game, its clear that Los Blancos need their biggest star on the biggest European nights - Cristiano Ronaldo could have went on a goalscoring rampage at times.
Disciplined Madrid sets up advantage: Real Madrid's first half display was unusual in the manner that they focused mostly on defence. Going forward they didn't threaten much, but Sergio Ramos instructed his line excellently and that's something Zidane may be pleased about. They didn't give away many major chances perhaps because they rarely went forward. It's rare seeing them play like that, but when they did, they pulled it off.
Joe Hart saves the day: When Real Madrid piled on the pressure in the second, Joe Hart was there to stop them. On the first occasion, he kept his foot out to stop Casemiro's low header, and then a few moments later he came up with one of the saves of the season. After being out of the game, he produced a miraculous save at point blank range.
Otamendi lucky as City hold firm: Manchester City did have a few blips in the game, from set pieces mostly when they were bystanders as the ball drifted over them and towards Ramos - whose header didn't trouble Hart, and a couple of other chances. Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany's partnership did work, with the Argentine winning the ball quickly, but maybe on another day he would be the culprit after he clipped Vasquez in the area.
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Vincent Kompany: "It's hard to keep a clean sheet against such a good attacking team. We can be proud of what we've achieved in this first leg."
Joe Hart: "We've set it up for a good, old fashioned rumble at the Bernabéu."
Bacary Sagna: "We knew it would be a tough game. Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, they are a great team. We gave our all."
As it happenedMan City 0-0 Real Madrid FT— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 26, 2016
Chances created: 3-9
Pass acc: 81%-84%
All to play for pic.twitter.com/CxEJ3Ti3DO