Inter's unlikely 2009-10 Champions League success under Jose Mourinho could inspire Cameroon to a shock World Cup triumph in Qatar, according to the former Nerazzurri and Indomitable Lions striker Samuel Eto'o.

The Cameroon great was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, winning a fifth consecutive Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and their first Champions League or European Cup title in 45 years.

Diego Milito's brace was enough to down Bayern Munich in the final of UEFA's elite club competition, with Eto'o assisting the Argentina international for his second goal to wrap up victory.

Inter overcame Chelsea and Barcelona either side of defeating of CSKA Moscow en route to the final, and Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – optimistically believes his country can follow the Nerazzurri's example at Qatar 2022.

"I don't see why he can't win it," he told reporters in Milan, where the 41-year-old has returned to announce a charity friendly game in San Siro on May 23 that will include the likes of Francesco Totti and Lionel Messi.

"I believe that in order to win the World Cup you don't need to be monsters or aliens, you need good preparation, a strong mentality and a pinch of madness.

"I won a bit in my career and to do it I gave everything. 

"I always take Inter as an example: no one at the beginning of the 2009-10 season thought we could win [the Champions League] and instead Mourinho did something crazy, with a group of men and warriors.

"I would like something like that for Cameroon too."

Cameroon's best performance at a World Cup saw them famously reach the 1990 quarter-finals, but they did not make it out of the group in any of their other six participations, failing to even register a point at either South Africa 2010 or Brazil 2014.

Having missed out on Russia 2018, Cameroon will have to overcome the world's number-one ranked side Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group G later this year.

Pep Guardiola accepts his Manchester City players will not be able to forget Wednesday's defeat to Real Madrid, but he does not believe that should hamper their Premier League title bid.

City suffered yet more Champions League pain as Madrid scored two late goals and another in extra time to beat Guardiola's men 3-1 in their semi-final second leg, securing a 6-5 aggregate triumph.

Despite being four games away from another domestic league title, with Liverpool just a point behind, the Madrid match dominated Guardiola's pre-match news conference ahead of playing Newcastle United.

The manager imagines it will be the same inside the minds of his players, yet that does not concern him.

"They don't have to forget it," he said. "How are we going to forget it? We are going to play against Newcastle thinking about that, for sure.

"All the players in the training sessions, the meeting rooms, the warm-up, they are committed, they are going to do it. I don't have any doubt about that."

Guardiola made the assertion despite claiming he has not spoken to his City squad since returning from Madrid, allowing them time to recover before facing Newcastle.

Asked what he had said to the players, the Catalan coach said: "Nothing, we didn't speak. No words can help what all of us feel. It's just a question of time.

"Tomorrow will be the first day we'll be together, and we are going to talk about who we are as a team, what we have done in this semi-final of the Champions League, how good we have been – not just in these two games but all season – and trying to do an excellent last week.

"Probably it's one of the moments since I've been manager [when I have been] the most proud I am to be in this club, this organisation."

Guardiola's explanation for much of what happened in midweek was simple, repeating several times: "It's football."

He bristled at the idea Rodrygo Goes' dramatic last-gasp double exposed a mental fragility in his City side.

"There is no time for 'mental'," Guardiola said. "It was 45 seconds later."

He added: "Now people say it's a lack of character. A lack of character? What happens if Jack Grealish scores the two goals?

"Where is the character in Atletico when Ederson saves from [Angel] Correa. That's character, but if he scores it's not character?

"When [Thibaut] Courtois saves with his feet and it goes one centimetre to the corner, that is not character?"

City will certainly have to show character against Newcastle, surely fatigued from a draining European encounter in which they appeared to again lose Kyle Walker to injury.

However, Guardiola assured Kevin De Bruyne's substitution in Madrid was only "tactical". "He's good," the City boss added.

Jurgen Klopp has questioned UEFA's allocation of tickets for the Champions League final, where Liverpool will face Real Madrid.

The game at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris will be played on May 28, and both participating clubs have been allocated fewer than 20,000 tickets each to sell to fans, despite the capacity of the stadium being 75,000.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Tottenham, Klopp was asked about the impact of the travelling Reds support this season, and he was keen to point out the ticket issue.

"When you see the ticket prices and all this kind of stuff, the amount of tickets you get only... did I read, is it right that we only get 20,000, they get 20,000, [but] 75,000 in? That makes 35,000, what? Where are these tickets?," he asked.

"I cannot be more appreciative, more thankful for what [the fans] are doing. Unbelievable... It is the only bad thing about the journey [fans struggling to obtain tickets]. I really hope they all can make it somehow and can create an incredible atmosphere.

"That is what I love about this game, really. The world will be red or white, but everybody will be either or, so that's really cool."

The game will be a repeat of the 2018 Champions League final, in which Madrid ran out 3-1 winners in Kyiv thanks to Gareth Bale's brace and a Karim Benzema goal.

Mohamed Salah was forced off injured following a crude Sergio Ramos challenge early in the contest, and the Egyptian has not held back in his assertions that the Reds want revenge this time around.

Salah posted: "We have a score to settle" on social media on Wednesday, before also saying when he received his Football Writers' Player of the Year award on Thursday: "We lost in the (2018) final, it was a sad day for all of us and I think it is revenge time."

Klopp was not quite as forthright, though he did pay tribute to Madrid's astonishing semi-final win against Manchester City, when Los Blancos came from 5-3 down on aggregate heading into the 90th minute of the second leg to win 6-5 after extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"When we lost that final actually my favourite solution would have been to play the final the next year against Real Madrid, to be honest," Klopp admitted. "But we faced Tottenham [in 2019, winning 2-0], which was absolutely fine, in Madrid, so Madrid seems to be our destiny.

"It was strange and unlucky for City, but what Madrid did was outstanding. They got through against Paris Saint-Germain, against Chelsea, and against City, when we said before when we played Villarreal that if you knock out Bayern, you deserve to be in the semi-final, if you knock out these three [teams], you definitely deserve to be in the final.

"It will be great. That we were not happy that night, that's clear, but it was a while ago. I'm happy to go there and give it a try. Until then, we have a lot of games to play and you will ask a lot of questions about Real Madrid until then.

"What Carlo [Ancelotti] did there is absolutely incredible. If you go to a final the idea is you want to win it and that is what we'll work on the week before."

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have already achieved their aims by being contenders in every competition, insisting he was not brought to the Etihad Stadium to win the Champions League.

City's wait for European football's top club prize will go on after they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Real Madrid following an incredible semi-final collapse.

But in a lengthy response to a question about his players' chances of ever winning the competition ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against Newcastle United, Guardiola explained how the club view success differently from "the people" on the outside.

"I don't know [if this team can win it]," he said. "It's a question I cannot answer. Before Madrid, I did not know if we were able to win it.

"I don't have an answer to all your questions. Football is incredibly unpredictable – we saw it.

"This is my feeling, maybe I'm wrong: Abu Dhabi didn't buy this club and invest in these incredible facilities, invest in players, like a lot of other clubs in the world, to be what we lived the last years.

"It's not to win just the Champions League. They did it to be there in all competitions, in every season, compete, compete, compete until the end.

"In the Champions League, we want to do it – maybe I'm not good enough, nobody knows what happens with another manager – but we want to be there as much as possible in all competitions. For us, it's an honour.

"There are people who I know didn't appreciate what this club is doing. Maybe it's not enough, but for me it's incredible, remarkable.

"Being in the semi-finals of the Champions League again, after last season, making steps to be there and compete against an outstanding team in this competition, the way we did it, home and away...

"We were close – not close enough, because the team who wins deserves it – but we were there. This is my feeling.

"It always depends on winning the Champions League, winning the Champions League, winning the Premier League, winning the Premier League – nothing about what we have done since the takeover one decade ago, with all the players that went before, the managers that went before – it doesn't make sense.

"We will try again next season; it will be difficult, because the teams are good. I know the people want to be in that way, I accept it from day one, I have to handle it, but it's not a problem for me.

"It's not about that; it's about in the Premier League again being there, in the FA Cup semi-finals again, in the Champions League semi-finals, this season it could not happen but even the Carabao Cup four times in a row.

"This is where the club want to be. That's why they ask me to come here, for that.

"They never ask me to win any one title. They never ask me anything, the club, if anything just to play as good as possible and compete with all the teams in England and all the teams in Europe we have to play. It's completely opposite to what people think about it.

"I'm not saying it's fair or not fair; I'm not saying that.

"People say if they this group of players or this manager doesn't win a title, they're failures. I accept it, but I completely disagree, completely. We know how difficult it is, but I accept it.

"I'm not going to make it a thing where I am right and you're wrong. You can do whatever, say whatever, but as a club, the feeling that we have, it's to try to do it.

"We are sad, of course we are sad – we were close. The players wanted to play the final. But for this club to compete with Real Madrid the way that we did was a joy.

"How close we were, wow, but we could not do it, okay. I say congratulations to Liverpool and Real Madrid; if they are in the final, they deserve to be in the final.

"It's important that next season we are going to try; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again.

"And in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup next season, we want to go further than we were this season.

"This is when we became a club, you know, a club where this club is great, it's good. Look at all the big clubs in Europe, who every year are there, are there, are there; in the last years, we are there.

"Sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes you put in everything and you do not achieve it. What is the problem?

"Okay, we did not achieve it. The next day, you try to do it; in the good moments, take credit; in the bad moments, more sad than usual. The next day, you try to do it. The club is good for this."

Guardiola insisted he "cannot live" for European glory alone – and suggested City would be criticised even if they did win the Champions League.

Asked if the defeat gave him added hunger, he replied: "No, always I am starving.

"I know the people outside here demand Champions League, Champions League, Champions League, we know it, but I cannot live [just for that].

"The moment we win the Champions League, they'll say look at the money we spent. If not, they spent all that money and didn't win the Champions League. We are the only club in the world in the last 10, 15, 20 years who spent money."

Barcelona coach Xavi is urging his players to take full advantage of a "golden opportunity" to seal Champions League qualification against a direct rival in Real Betis.

The Blaugrana go to Seville on Saturday sitting second in LaLiga, eight points clear of fifth-placed Betis – who won 1-0 at Camp Nou in December – as the battle for the top four nears its conclusion.

A win for Barca over the Copa del Rey winners would take them to 69 points and ensure they do not finish any lower than fourth, with Betis only able to reach 67 and sixth-placed Real Sociedad 68.

While the 15-point gap to champions Real Madrid highlights how confronting 2021-22 has been for Barca, Xavi has restored a degree of positivity since replacing Ronald Koeman in November.

Barca were ninth in LaLiga after 13 matches ahead of Xavi's first game in charge, 10 points behind second-placed Sevilla; they now appear favourites to finish ahead of Julen Lopetegui's side and dethroned champions Atletico Madrid as runners-up.

And Xavi wants his team to clinch Champions League qualification at the first time of asking.

"Hopefully, it's a golden opportunity to qualify for the Champions League," he said on Friday. "They're a direct rival, with great players and a great coach. It will be difficult.

"Football gives us the chance to take sporting revenge. We want to fulfil our goals before the end of the season.

"We are fighting for the minimum, but that's the way it is. There are two goals, but the most important is to be in the Champions League next season.

"That's the objective. If we can get second, which would give us the option of entering the Supercopa, then even better.

"We cannot think beyond this, [but] I hope that this summer there will be signings despite the economic situation. We cannot take the European qualification for granted.

"I expect an opponent [Betis] with a lot of confidence. They have won the Copa, they deserved it. I congratulate Betis, [Manuel] Pellegrini and the players, who are having an excellent, historic season. I congratulate them."

Ever since Xavi's return to the club, their "philosophy" and "DNA" have drawn a lot of focus, with many supporters feeling Barca's ethos was diluted under Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and Koeman.

Ronald Araujo commented that restoring "the Barca DNA" with Xavi was a chief goal of his after signing a new contract in April, and while the coach acknowledges he cannot change things in an instant, he is confident they are making progress with a top-four finish almost secure.

"It's not my message, it's the message of Barca's history," Xavi continued. "I don't have a magic wand, what I'm clear about is that with this model [Barca] won five Champions Leagues and world recognition.

"You leave Spain and they remember [Pep] Guardiola's Barca, [Lionel] Messi's Barca, and they remember how we won, not so much what we won.

"We have to wait and be patient. If we review history, there is no doubt."

Mohamed Salah is relishing the prospect of facing Real Madrid after they were confirmed as Liverpool's opponents in the Champions League final.

After Liverpool's dramatic second-leg win over Villarreal carried the Reds through to the May 28 trophy match in Paris, Madrid's taste for the epic was exhibited on Wednesday, scoring two goals in injury time and a third in extra time to eliminate Manchester City.

The 29-year-old Salah reacted on Twitter after Madrid's win, affirming that he and Liverpool have a "score to settle".

He has now gone further to suggest everyone at Liverpool wanted to face Los Blancos more than their fierce Premier League rivals at the Stade de France.

"If you ask everybody [at Liverpool], everyone wanted that game," Salah told Sky Sports. "I don't know why we're not allowed to talk about it, but I'm okay to talk about it – I wanted that game. I wanted to play Real Madrid before that game [against Manchester City].

"Of course, I'm not giving too much credit to them. They're an unbelievable team with a great coach, great players. When they asked me who I wanted, I said Madrid. It's an easy answer."

Salah holds a personal record of one draw and four defeats in the five times he has played against Los Blancos in the Champions League, scoring once – in the first leg of the 2020-21 quarter-final stage.

The 2017-18 final between Liverpool and Madrid was memorable for Salah's early injury and substitution, after a duel with Sergio Ramos where he was dragged down.

Despite personal disappointments for both Liverpool and Roma against Madrid, the Kyiv final four years ago is the one that lingers in the memory, both publicly and individually.

"You just feel so disappointed, so down," Salah said. "'Ah come on, not in this game!' But once you have time, it makes you forget.

"I had work affairs and then I had a holiday after. In that holiday I just asked, 'What do you want? To keep crying about it and be sad about it and it takes you down? Or you just fight back.' And I fought back in the best way and that's why we're here now."

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos revealed Carlo Ancelotti sought advice from senior players when making tactical changes in the incredible Champions League semi-final win over Manchester City.

A late double from substitute Rodrygo – who became the first player in Champions League history to score twice in the 90th minute of a knockout match – saw Los Blancos force extra time in Madrid. Karim Benzema's penalty then secured a 6-5 aggregate triumph and kept alive Madrid's hopes of a 14th crown in the competition.

Madrid boss Ancelotti has now reached a fifth Champions League final, having done so in 2003, 2005 and 2007 with Milan, and in 2014 and 2022 across two spells with the Spanish champions, and his introduction of Rodrygo, who replaced Kroos after 68 minutes, proved vital.

Fellow substitute Eduardo Camavinga also produced an outstanding display from the bench as Madrid qualified for their 17th European Cup/Champions League final.

Kroos, 32, revealed he and other senior players were asked for input on Ancelotti's switches, saying the Italian's ability to communicate with his players makes him an elite coach.

"The coach himself had a few doubts about who he would bring on and who not to bring on," Kroos told DAZN. "We [the players] have all seen a few football games ourselves. That allows you to exchange ideas a bit.

"That describes him really well and why things always work well with the team. It's outstanding. In the end he decides, but of course he's interested in our opinion."

Since 2003-04, which saw the introduction of the Champions League's last-16 knockout stage, Madrid became the only team to lose a game in each of the first three knockout rounds and still make the competition's final (losing 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16, 3-2 to Chelsea in the quarter-finals, and 4-3 to City in the semi-finals).

After Los Blancos set up a repeat of their 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, in which a Gareth Bale double won the Spanish outfit their 13th European title, Kroos said he was struggling to explain the team's remarkable ability to bounce back from falling behind.

"It's amazing, we were out 26 times during the knockout phase and fought back 26 times," he added.

"It's sometimes difficult to explain, even for me, what happened in the last few minutes. That's the belief, that's the stadium, the combination is magical."

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is Karim Benzema's biggest challenger for this year's Ballon d'Or, according to Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry.

Benzema is enjoying the best season of his career in front of goal and has played a crucial role in Madrid's run to the Champions League final, where Liverpool await on May 28.

The 34-year-old has scored 43 times and provided a further 14 assists in all competitions, with no other player across Europe's top five leagues directly involved in more goals (57).

Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe are next on that list with 54 combined goals and assists each, while Mane lags some way behind on 23 for Liverpool – albeit having missed part of the season during the Africa Cup of Nations, which he won with Senegal.

Lewandowski, Mbappe and Anfield team-mate Mohamed Salah have been tipped to rival Benzema for football's top individual award, but Henry believes Mane is better placed. 

"To make the final even bigger, the two favourites for the Ballon d'Or are Mane and Benzema," Henry told CBS Sports. "That will add an extra little spice into it."

Mane played a direct part in five goals for Senegal at AFCON, aiding his cause to be crowned the world's best player.

However, if the former Southampton forward is to have any chance of pipping Benzema to the accolade, Henry says he must win a clean sweep of trophies with Liverpool.

The Reds have already lifted the EFL Cup and are into the FA Cup and Champions League finals, but they trail Manchester City by a point with four Premier League games left.

"I still believe that Benzema is ahead, but if Mane wins [the Champions League] with Liverpool and they do make the quadruple, that is a pretty strong case," Henry said.

"It would be great for Africa, but I'm still going for Benzema."

Benzema finished fourth in the voting for last year's Ballon d'Or, which was won by Lionel Messi for a record-extending seventh time.

Indeed, only one player other than Messi and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award since 2008, with Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric triumphing in 2018.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Guti has admitted his surprise at the form of Karim Benzema this season, labelling him "football in its purest state".

Benzema scored an extra-time penalty in Madrid's dramatic 3-1 second-leg win in their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday and is among the favourites for this year's Ballon d'Or.

The France striker has 43 goals and 14 assists in 43 games in all competitions this season, helping Los Blancos to the LaLiga title as well as the Champions League final, where they will play Liverpool.

Speaking to TMW, Guti – who played for Madrid between 1995 and 2010 – praised his former team-mate for replacing the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left for Juventus in 2018.

"In his feet there is an incredible talent, but I did not expect this performance as a goalscorer," he said.

"He is giving a lot to a Real that, after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, needed goals. Benzema represents football in its purest state."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri added his voice to those congratulating Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid on their extraordinary win against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

Los Blancos were 5-3 down on aggregate heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu before two goals from substitute Rodrygo forced extra time, and a Karim Benzema penalty sent Madrid through to the final, where they will meet Liverpool in Paris.

The victory marked the fifth time Ancelotti has guided a team to the Champions League final, the most of any manager in the competition's history, surpassing the four by Alex Ferguson, Marcello Lippi and his upcoming opponent in the French capital, Jurgen Klopp.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Juve's game with relegation-threatened Genoa, Allegri was inevitably asked about Wednesday's remarkable game.

"It was a wonderful match," he said. "I have to congratulate Carlo Ancelotti because he did something extraordinary."

Focusing on his own team's goals, Allegri explained that while he is relieved to have secured Champions League football for next season after nearest rivals Roma could only draw 0-0 with Bologna on Sunday, he wants Juve to continue to set high standards, especially as they prepare for next week's Coppa Italia final against Inter.

"From now to the end of the championship we must try to score as many points as possible. We reached the minimum goal of fourth place with three matches to go, and we are happy with that. [Thursday] we will have to play a good match.

"The Coppa Italia is our goal [now]. At the start of the season, all competitions must be a goal. We will play this match on Wednesday and we are happy to be there."

The former Milan boss also insisted he will play the strongest team he can against Genoa as preparation for the clash with Inter, though did confirm that Danilo and Luca Pellegrini will be missing.

"Tomorrow our strongest line-up will be on the pitch. Danilo will rest and will be back with the team on Sunday morning. Pellegrini has an ankle injury and will not be available.

"Juan Cuadrado and Mattia De Sciglio will return."

Allegri was also asked about the impact of Dusan Vlahovic, January's big-money signing from Fiorentina who has seven goals in 17 appearances across all competitions since joining the Bianconeri.

"I am very happy with Vlahovic. I didn't expect him to be able to immerse himself so well in the team and in Juventus. He has done very well so far and I am really satisfied.

"He, like others, can only get better. Tomorrow he will likely play."

Barcelona defender Dani Alves said "there is no such thing as luck" as he saluted fierce rivals Real Madrid's remarkable late comeback win against Manchester City.

The Spanish champions edged an epic semi-final with City 6-5 on aggregate on Wednesday to set up a showdown with Liverpool – a repeat of the 2018 final – in Paris on May 28.

Rodrygo scored twice in the space of 91 seconds to salvage extra time for Madrid, who trailed 5-3 on aggregate with less than a minute of normal time remaining.

Karim Benzema's penalty in the additional period sealed Los Blancos' passage through to a record-extending 17th European Cup/Champions League final, which is six more than any other team.

It is the third knockout round in a row that Carlo Ancelotti's men, who secured a second league title in three years at the weekend, have recovered from behind.

Indeed, since the Champions League format changed in 2003-04, Madrid are the first team to lose a match in the last 16 (1-0 vs Paris Saint-Germain), quarter-final (3-2 v Chelsea) and semi-final (4-3 v Man City) and still reach the final.

And Brazil international full-back Alves does not believe it is any coincidence that Madrid pulled off another almighty fightback.

"Just like in life, there is no such thing as luck," Alves posted shortly after full-time. "Either you dominate the game or the game dominates you."

Hailing the late impact of two-goal Rodrygo, who is the first player in Champions League history to score twice in the 90th minute of a knockout match, Alves added: "Ah, what would soccer be without the Brazilians!"

With 11 goals spread across the two legs, Madrid's memorable victory against City is the second-highest scoring semi-final in the competition's history, behind only Liverpool's 7-6 win against Roma in 2017-18.

The Reds await Madrid at the Stade de France later this month after surviving a scare of their own before seeing off Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate on Tuesday.

Jonathan Woodgate described Real Madrid's remarkable Champions League win against Manchester City as "probably the best [game] I have ever seen".

Madrid lost 4-3 at the Etihad Stadium in their semi-final first leg – an encounter that was widely lauded for its incredible drama.

But further twists and turns were still to come back in Spain, where City led 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate with less than a minute of normal time to play.

Rodrygo Goes scored twice in the space of 91 seconds to take the tie to extra time, before Karim Benzema's penalty sent Madrid through with a 3-1 home win.

Former Blancos defender Woodgate was amazed by the match but considered it typical of a Madrid team who have become the first to lose games in the last 16, quarter-finals and semis and still make the Champions League final in its existing format.

"What a game of football. It's probably the best I have ever seen," Woodgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"You could not write it. Phenomenal football by Real Madrid, and City had no comeback.

"This stadium, these players, they never know when they are beaten. They just keep going right until the end. At 80 minutes, we thought 'game over' – not this crowd, not this team."

City play Newcastle United, another of Woodgate's former teams, next on Sunday, needing to recover quickly to preserve a one-point lead over Liverpool in the Premier League and secure silverware for this season.

But ex-England man Woodgate has his doubts, adding: "It is such a distressing loss. What ramifications does that have on the league? They could blow up after this."

Thibaut Courtois kept believing as Real Madrid battled back against Manchester City, having already seen the 13-time European champions prove they are "capable of anything".

On Wednesday, Madrid became the first team in the existing format of the Champions League to reach the final having lost matches in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals.

City had been 4-3 winners at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg and looked on course for another victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Less than a minute remained with the scoreline still at 1-0 following Riyad Mahrez's seemingly vital goal.

But Rodrygo Goes then netted twice in the space of 91 seconds to take the tie to extra time, where Karim Benzema's penalty sealed a sensational triumph.

Courtois played his part, with one stunning stop from Jack Grealish prior to Rodrygo's first goal counted among eight saves.

Only two goalkeepers – Manuel Neuer against Manchester United in 2010-11 and Jan Oblak versus Bayern Munich in 2015-16 (both nine) – have previously made more saves in a single Champions League semi-final match.

And Courtois said afterwards: "This team and this club are capable of anything. We kept believing until the end, and ultimately we made it possible.

"We knew we were in better shape going into extra time; it was a case of digging in and defending well, which is what we did.

"We weren't great in front of goal – we were missing the final pass, and sometimes it feels like it won't go for you – but with the goal and the fans behind us, we knew anything could happen."

Madrid will face Liverpool in what will be a record-extending 17th European Cup or Champions League final appearance.

Real Madrid hero Rodrygo Goes acknowledged his stunning cameo against Manchester City was his "best version" of himself in the Champions League as he led the 13-time European champions into the final.

Rodrygo had scored a vital goal against Chelsea in the quarter-finals and was required for another rescue act in the last four.

Madrid were still 4-3 behind on aggregate when the winger was introduced from the bench with 22 minutes remaining in the second leg, only for Riyad Mahrez's strike to then put Carlo Ancelotti's men two behind.

It appeared a lost cause, but Madrid do not deal in such defeatism – at least not this season and certainly not in this competition.

Rodrygo steered in from Karim Benzema's cutback with less than a minute of normal time to play, before remarkably heading in another 91 seconds later.

Those goals took the tie to extra time, where Benzema's penalty – won by the forward from a Rodrygo pass – sent Madrid through 6-5 on aggregate.

Benzema's 10th goal of the knockout stage tied Cristiano Ronaldo's 2016-17 record, but it would not have been possible without Rodrygo, who has remarkably scored with seven of his 10 shots on target in home Champions League games.

The Brazil international became the first Madrid substitute to score twice in a Champions League match since Gareth Bale's double in the 2017-18 final against Liverpool. That was the last time Los Blancos won the competition, but they are on the brink again against the same side.

"I'm really happy to be able to score two goals in the semi-final and get Madrid to the place where they always belong – the Champions League final – and to win it," Rodrygo said.

"I couldn't hear what my team-mates were saying to me because I couldn't believe what was happening.

"We were losing the game, my first goal in the 90th minute and we were dead, and then what happened was what happened.

"That's my best version of myself in the Champions League, and I hope I can continue to score a lot more times.

"In this shirt, we learn to always fight until the end and that's the way it was. We conceded a goal and we were almost dead, but with my first goal we started to believe because we've fought back in other games, and then came the second.

"From right now, we turn our attentions to Liverpool. We have another two LaLiga games we can use to prepare for the final."

Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's team leading 5-3 on aggregate.

Yet two goals in the space of 91 seconds from Rodrygo forced extra-time, and Carlo Ancelotti's team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when Karim Benzema converted a penalty to claim a 3-1 win (6-5 on aggregate).

It was the third stunning turnaround Madrid have enjoyed in the knockout stages this campaign, following Benzema's hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Rodrygo's goal against Chelsea to secure an aggregate win in the quarters last month.

Here's a few other incredible comebacks to jog your memory.

Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (3-2 agg), 2022

Madrid have done it the hard way this season, as they target a 14th European title. 

Not many fancied them to get through against PSG, especially when Kylian Mbappe, who had scored a stunning goal in the first leg in Paris in February, put Mauricio Pochettino's team ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a crisp finish.

Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma's slack play enabled Benzema to pounce and pull one back, with the striker then scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG (6-5 agg), 2017

Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.

However, two quick Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018

The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andrew Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham in an all-English final.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019

Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax – the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019

It really had been quite the season for upsets in Europe's premier competition. A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005

That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.

But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool's history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.

Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek's leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.

United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler's skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent's top-tier competition.

However, the United of Alex Ferguson's era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs' shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.

Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham's header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

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