As her side sealed their spot in the Champions League final, our Manchester City fan reporter Emily Laycock witnessed an atmosphere like never before
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but City cooked up a storm in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final to book their flight to Istanbul, silencing those travelling to cheer on the reigning champions Real Madrid. The atmosphere was incredible before the teams even came out; easily the loudest I have ever witnessed. Chants of “Istanbul!” and “Best defence in Europe!” rang around the stadium while blue-and-white flags were waved, eagerly anticipating kick-off.
I was naive to think it couldn’t get any louder. When Bernardo Silva’s shot met the back of the Madrid net, it sent the Cityzens wild – myself included. I imagine it would have been hard for Carlo Ancelotti and his team to play against this City side on any day, let alone inside a sold-out stadium with our fans booing their every touch of the ball. It was ferocious.
Kyle Walker caused an eruption from the crowd to be heard on the other side of Manchester when he outpaced Vini Jr, who was through on goal; the cheers suggested it was “equivalent to a goal”. That sums up what I love most about the Champions League: watching one of the best right-backs in the world battling with one of the best wingers in the world. That is special to witness.
The nerves and tension slowly slipped away as one became two and two became three, with Julián Alvárez sealing the deal from the bench with the fourth. Cue the celebrations. Ten minutes, 15 minutes, even 20 minutes after the final whistle, the stadium was still rocking. As the players enjoyed the moment with each other on the pitch, the emotions of reaching a Champions League final engulfing them, we did the same in the stands, cheering and hugging people we had never met before, yet still felt connected to. We waved our flags until our arms ached and sang until our lungs hurt – what a night!
The celebrations didn’t stop there. Victory over Real Madrid brought Pep Guardiola his 100th Champions League win as a manager, 47 of which have come with City. My dad always likes to remind me, amid all these celebrations, of how lucky we are to be experiencing such a successful City squad, given the memories he has of the City he once had to endure when they were in the Second Division.
And while there have been many changes to the club over the years to get us back where we belong, one thing my dad says has always – and will always – remain the same is the spirit and support of the fans. He didn’t believe there could be a better atmosphere than the kind he witnessed at Maine Road, but this week surpassed all expectations. Our first Champions League semi-final in the stadium, together, was one to remember.
And now 10 June can’t come soon enough. We will come up against Inter in the final and they are going to prove a tough test. With Napoli already crowned Serie A champions, Inter will be hungry to get their hands on some silverware, but it’s going to be a real battle to beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side – who are on track to win the treble.
Istanbul, here we come!