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Champions League PIX: Manchester City hold Ronaldo-less Real

Last updated on: April 27, 2016 09:30 IST
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 Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Real Madrid's Pepe battle for possession during their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Tuesday

IMAGE: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Real Madrid's Pepe battle for possession during their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Tuesday. Photograph:Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester City survived a late grilling by Real Madrid thanks to goalkeeper Joe Hart to hold on for a 0-0 draw on Tuesday that keeps alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League final for the first time.

Playing in their first European semi-final for 45 years, Premier League City produced a cagey first-leg display that offered little menace, although crucially they denied free-scoring Real an away goal.

Ten-times champions Real suffered a setback before kickoff when Cristiano Ronaldo, the leading scorer in this season's competition with 16 goals, was ruled out with a thigh injury.

His spark was badly missed in a turgid first half at City's Etihad Stadium, but Real finally came alive after the break and the hosts needed two instinctive late saves from Hart to keep them in the hunt for the second leg at the Bernabeu next week.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is tackled by Manchester City's Fernando and Gael Clichy during their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Tuesday

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is tackled by Manchester City's Fernando and Gael Clichy during their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Tuesday. Photograph: Phil Noble/Livepic/Reuters

"It's too close to call at the moment," City captain Vincent Kompany said.

"We couldn't have wished for more. We have 90 minutes left and we'll look forward to next week."

Neither side managed a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, but Real gradually upped their tempo after the break with Gareth Bale increasingly influential.

The Welshman curled one effort wide and had a penalty appeal turned down before substitute Jese looped a header against the crossbar with Hart at full stretch.

Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart saves a point blank shot from Real Madrid's Pepe

IMAGE: Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart saves a point blank shot from Real Madrid's Pepe. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Hart saved a Casemiro header with his left foot and then shortly after Pepe looked certain to break the deadlock from point-blank range but Hart blocked the shot with his chest.

City striker Sergio Aguero had a quiet night and their creative department was not helped when David Silva limped off with a hamstring injury after 40 minutes.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said he would not be fit for the return, although the Chilean was confident his side could prevail in the Spanish capital despite Real having racked up 18 goals without conceding at home in this year's competition.

Real Madrid's Casemiro and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany are involved in an aeriel duel as they vie for possession

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Casemiro and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany are involved in an aeriel duel as they vie for possession. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

"If you can't win, then the best draw is zero-zero," he said.

"This season we have played very well away. Now we go to the Bernabeu with the same attitude as playing at home.

"Real Madrid must attack a little bit more."

The hosts did produce a late flurry after Raheem Sterling joined the fray from the bench and the winger forced a timely interception from Pepe, while Kevin De Bruyne's inswinging free kick forced Keylor Navas into some rare action.

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Source: REUTERS
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