Behind 5-3 overall for Manchester City as the second leg of their semi-final entered the final minute of regulation time, they pulled through to a draw thanks to Rodrygo’s last-gasp brace before Karim Benzema snatched an unlikely victory from the penalty sport in extra time.
McManaman, the former Liverpool winger who won the competition twice during his time at Real Madrid, was co-commentator for BT Sport on a dramatic evening at the Bernabeu stadium, and was already relishing a mouth-watering final immediately afterwards.
He said: “I think this final is a brilliant final, really. Real Madrid and the story that happened this year – they weren’t at their best, but they made the final and the way they did it, if they beat Liverpool it will be arguably the biggest win ever.
“Going through PSG, champions, going through City, Chelsea and Liverpool when you understand how strong the English Premier League is and the English teams, I think that would be the biggest win ever.
“I’m not saying they’re going to win, but I said against Chelsea, against Manchester City and against everyone.”
McManaman was still struggling to comprehend what he saw after City, leading 1-0 on the night thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s second-half strike, appeared to be heading for the final with Jack Grealish twice close extend its advantage.
He said, “How do you explain that to a neutral? How did this result come about? Grealish had those two wonderful chances. It looked like City were just going to go 2-0, 3-0, thank you very much.
“Even when Madrid scored, you said ‘Wow! That’s a surprise’. But I didn’t expect them to do it again.
“I never once thought when I was sitting up there: ‘Madrid are going to come back in this game’. I didn’t once. I just thought, ‘Okay, let’s slow down time, get out of here, City v Liverpool in the final’.”
BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand has paid tribute to the resilience that carried Carlo Ancelotti’s men across the line through thick and thin.
He said: “Never doubt the quality of these players in this team, the experience. We have always said that experience matters so much at this level, and the heart, the desire, the character of these players.
“They’ve been here, they’ve seen this so many times. The fact that they have many, many players here who have won multiple Champions League trophies.
“At no point in this tournament did they panic when they fell behind.”
The final whistle has gone Pep Guardiola and his players wonder what could have been after seeing their European dream shattered once again.
However, former City defender Joleon Lescott has insisted they cannot afford to lick their wounds as they try to cement their narrow lead at the top of the Premier League against Newcastle on Sunday.
Asked what Guardiola needs to end his wait for another Champions League win, Lescott replied: “Listen, you have to be a bit lucky.
“We have seen him fall at this hurdle in the past due to small moments of luck and unfortunate mistakes. Two penalties in the semi-finals, it’s not great.
“But listen, there’s still a lot to play for, the opportunity to win three Premier Leagues in a row, a remarkable achievement if they can do it.
“It’s been an exceptional season and it’s not over.”
Steve McManaman hails Real Madrid return ‘greatest win ever’
Source link Steve McManaman hails Real Madrid return ‘greatest win ever’