The Guardian: LONDON, By David Hytner at the Etihad Stadium – It was not even close, which was surely the most impressive thing from Manchester City’s point of view as they roared into the Champions League final; another step closer to ultimacy, immortality.

The power came during an eviscerating first half, when Bernardo Silva scored two and Real Madrid were reduced to quivering wrecks, fortunate that the damage was not heavier. Jack Grealish had one of the games of his life and he was ably supported by pretty much everybody around him.

With this Madrid team on these kinds of nights, partly because of their history – 14 European Cups and all the rest – there is usually the sense that they are never dead, that they will find a way back. Not here.

Bernardo Silva celebrates

Madrid knitted a few moves together in the second half and if that bears reporting it was because of how one-sided it had been previously. There was never the feeling that they had another comeback in them, another dose of Champions League voodoo to rival that with which they had devastated City at this stage of last season’s competition.

City managed the second half and it was over when Manuel Akanji touched a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick into Éder Militão, who watched the ball fly in off him. Militão had come into the Madrid team for Antonio Rüdiger and with the brief of stopping Erling Haaland.

Madrid did at least prevent City’s goal king from scoring, although mainly because Thibaut Courtois once again showed why he is surely the best goalkeeper in Europe. Yet the positives for Carlo Ancelotti were in grievously short supply, the only other one being that the full-time scoreline did not reflect City’s superiority. The Madrid manager was questioned about his future afterwards. He said there was no doubt that he would stay on.

It probably said a lot that the celebrations from the City crowd after the third goal were not overly wild, which was also the case when the substitute Julian Álvarez scored the fourth in stoppage time. It was laid on by a killer ball from another replacement, Phil Foden – which was very much a motif of the occasion. City’s passing was loaded with fizz and incision.

The home fans have feasted on the travails of visiting teams, how they have routinely been overrun. It is almost as if they expect to win and be entertained richly along the way. City smashed RB Leipzig 7-0 here in the last 16. It was 3-0 against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final. Now this.

Julián Álvarez rounds off City’s night with the fourth goal – Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

City have not lost at the Etihad in 26 Champions League matches. They are on a 23-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, peaking at the perfect time, playing the most destructive football of the Pep Guardiola era. It was yet another statement and they will be hot favourites to beat Internazionale in the final.

It was one of the biggest nights in City’s history. In the background was their looming capture of a fifth Premier League title in six seasons, along with the FA Cup final against Manchester United. But it really was in the background because this was all about the Champions League, the trophy that they lack. And crave.

Guardiola did not overthink it. He picked the same team as the first leg and demanded that they impose themselves from the first whistle. It was extraordinary how they did so. City were a blur of sky blue, bringing the press and the intensity, their movements and interplay so sharp. Madrid reeled, sinking into two deep banks – or survival mode.

The first half was traumatic for them, Luka Modric a symbol of their difficulties. Twice in the opening 20 minutes he erred with passes and his evening did not get any better. It was difficult to remember him struggling so sorely for rhythm, although he was hardly the only Madrid player who barely turned up.

Rodri dragged wide in the early running, then Courtois made a pair of high-end saves to repel Haaland headers, the second taking the breath. City’s remorseless pressure told when De Bruyne flashed a low pass through for Silva, who had melted into space behind the Madrid defence. Silva never looked like missing, the finish lifted inside the near corner.

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Madrid could barely get out in the first half, although Toni Kroos did unload a vicious shot from distance that rattled the crossbar in the 35th minute. Moments earlier, Kyle Walker had chased back at high-speed to nick the ball away from Vinícius Jr. How the home crowd loved that.

City were winning every duel; Madrid looked shell-shocked. It got worse for them when Silva scored again after Grealish had moved in from the left, defenders backing off, before banging a pass into Ilkay Gündogan. The midfielder showed his twinkle toes and worked Courtois, the ball looping up for Silva, whose guided header was a snapshot in composure.

Guardiola lived every moment, arguing with De Bruyne at one point, blowing kisses to Grealish at another. Grealish struck fear into Madrid with his directness, the close control and dribbling while he did not neglect his tracking back duties, either.

Alaba extended Ederson with a free-kick that wobbled and dipped and Madrid wondered whether one goal could change everything. But they did not threaten again until the 83rd minute when Ederson saved from the substitute Dani Ceballos and, by then, it was finished.

Haaland had been denied by Courtois on 73 minutes, the goalkeeper diverting the ball up and on to the crossbar after a one-on-one, but it did not matter for City. Can anybody stop them?

Top Feature Photo: Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring Manchester City’s second goal during their win over Real Madrid – Tom Jenkins/The Guardian