Perhaps it is Ferland Mendy’s fault. Or maybe Thibaut Courtois is to blame. But for two remarkable interventions, Jack Grealish would surely now be the man who sealed Manchester City’s place in the Champions League final. His season would end in Paris. It could be deemed a qualified success.
Which feels unlikely now. An exceptional goal-line clearance by the left back and a brilliant save from the goalkeeper prevented Grealish from doubling City’s lead in the Bernabeu, from forging a 6-3 aggregate advantage that even Real Madrid, those masters of the improbable comeback, would have struggled to cancel out in injury time.
Over 210 minutes, there are a multitude of reasons why City went out. There are others who were guilty of glaring misses, particularly Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez at the Etihad Stadium. Yet Grealish’s striking shortcomings felt symbolic. His price tag is unavoidable and it confers pressure. He could have put the tie to bed. And, unlike Foden and Mahrez, who both scored in the tie, he has not delivered the seismic moments in major games to offset the occasional mishap.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies