Bale’s right-footed shot ricocheted off City midfielder Fernando on its way into the top corner to break the deadlock in the 20th minute, with Real going on to dominate the encounter despite failing to add to its lead.
The 1-0 aggregate result, after last week’s goalless first-leg stalemate, set up a mouth-watering final on May 28 between Real and its city neighbour Atletico Madrid, which it beat to lift its 10th European crown in 2014.
“The players deserve this,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who has the chance to crown his first season as coach with club football’s most coveted prize. “Everyone worked hard and that’s why we’re in the final. I’m delighted for what has happened. The final will be perfectly even, but now we’re going to enjoy this, it’s an important day.”
For City, however, it was a tame ending to its European campaign as it failed to force Real keeper Keylor Navas into a single save. While Bale enjoyed good fortune in forcing the goal, he nonetheless produced a blockbuster European performance.
He tirelessly closed down City’s midfield in a lung-busting display and was Real’s biggest threat in attack, providing exquisite passes and sending a header crashing against the bar in the second half.
City’s chances of shutting out Real was stung when its influential captain Vincent Kompany limped off the pitch with what appeared to be a muscle problem in the ninth minute, capping a frustrating season overshadowed by injuries for the centre-back.
Real seized the moment soon after. The energetic Dani Carvajal skipped past Kevin de Bruyne down the right and slipped the ball round the back of City’s defence and into the path of Bale. He made for the near post before his cross spun off the outstretched leg of Fernando and looped into the net off the woodwork.
Real grew stronger after the goal and a shot from Ronaldo flew over the bar, while Pepe put the ball in the net only to see his effort ruled out correctly for offside.