Real had defeated City in both of their previous semi-final meetings, but they made no mistakes here at a boisterous Etihad Stadium to go one step closer to winning the trophy that has eluded Pep Guardiola’s squad for so long.
And their performance in a particularly beautiful first half, during which the tournament’s top players were astounded by City’s brilliance, will live long in the memory.
It continued its apparently inexorable march towards a triple of the Champions League, Premier League, and the FA Cup, which they will face Manchester United in at Wembley on Sunday if they defeat Chelsea at home.
After saving two headers from Erling Haaland early in the first half, Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was helpless to stop Bernardo Silva from scoring from close range after 23 minutes. The Portugal midfielder added a second header eight minutes before halftime.
After the interval, Real presented City with sporadic threats, but they were no match for Ederson’s excellent saves from David Alaba and Karim Benzema. The celebrations began when Manuel Akanji’s header was deflected in off Eder Militao with 14 minutes remaining.
The resounding victory was then secured by substitute Julian Alvarez, who capitalized on a great Phil Foden ball to score a late goal.
City has placed itself in an incredible position to become just the second English team to win the Treble, which Manchester United first won in 1999.
The desire to maintain this accomplishment for themselves will give United motivation and energy in the FA Cup final at Wembley, even if City appear to have finally surpassed Arsenal in the fight for the Premier League title and will be the overwhelming favorites to defeat Inter Milan.
Guardiola’s team has previously found a way to miss out on the Champions League, but with Haaland’s acquisition and greater defensive grit, it is impossible to imagine how they will not overcome surprise champions Inter.
In a first half that will go down as one of the best this stadium has ever seen, City made an experienced and talented Real team look like they were several classes below them. Their brilliant interplay, intense intensity, and pace gave them a two-goal advantage that would have been much larger but for Courtois’ outstanding play.
Even before the game began, there was a unique energy in the air, and this triumph will taste even better considering the agony of City’s loss at the same point last season, when they came close to reaching the final but fell short after giving up two stoppage-time goals.
Despite City’s domestic supremacy, the Champions League has caused them varying degrees of pain, but it is difficult to see how they would fare in Istanbul if they play this well.
Despite their track record of success, Real should never be written out, but the manner of this loss had a sense of an era coming to an end.
The team that easily eliminated Liverpool and Chelsea from the Champions League appeared rusty in this match as City exhausted the current champions.
Just after the hour, Luka Modric was substituted for Antonio Rudiger; the 37-year-old’s future at the Bernabeu was in doubt. Even Karim Benzema, 35, was unable to pose his customary danger.
Real will not stand still, and the manner in which they were outclassed here may have sped up the pace of change. In addition to Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde, the young English prodigy Jude Bellingham is expected to join Real soon.
If Real Madrid goes a season without winning either La Liga or the Champions League, there will be discussion over whether the legendary Carlo Ancelotti will stay in command.
Regardless of the result, the Italian manager will remain the only coach in history to have won this competition four times.