Manchester City dug themselves a pretty big hole.
City had two second-half leads, and they lost both of them. If they want to compete in the Champions League, they simply need to be better than that.
Heading into the Bernabeu, City knew they would have to scratch and claw just to get a point. After a one-sided first half, City had still managed to keep the Spanish champions off the board. Things were setting up nicely.
As the second half began to slow down, Yaya Toure bruised his way through the Madrid midfield and set up Edin Dzeko on a great counter. The Bosnian finished calmly, and City were suddenly leading. Madrid equalized relatively quickly, and it looked like City would settle for a point.
Then Aleksander Kolarov snuck a free kick into the side netting to take another lead. Given it was the 85th minute, City certainly would come away with a point, and it looked like they could be stealing three.
Unfortunately, that's when things went terribly wrong. The defense was caught out once again as Karim Benzema equalized on a classic finish, and Ronaldo took some space in the box to score the winner, breaking the English side's hearts.
Considering they're in the group of death and it looked like they would get some points away from home, City were in great shape on Tuesday, but they blew it. Madrid hadn't finished well, and they were leaving the door wide open for the visitors.
But City simply couldn't break through.
It was an entertaining match to watch, but losses like that are unacceptable. City need to learn how to finish teams off (in European competition). Their defenders were dropping way too deep, allowing Madrid to shoot freely from 18 yards out. And it was the low pressure that led to all three of Madrid's goals.
Marcelo made them pay with a long-distance shot (that took a nifty deflection, mind you). Benzema turned and finished without much pressure. And Ronaldo had enough time in the box to dip it under Hart. The defending was lackluster, and it was the reason City lost.
With three points sitting in your lap, you have to secure them. City let a golden opportunity slip away. They've put an immense amount of pressure on themselves because they are now three points behind Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
If City want to escape the group, they will probably need points on the road. This was their best chance to get some, and they blew it.
If City don't maximize points in a situation like this again, they won't advance to the knockout stage.