Man City into CL semis after ill-tempered draw at Atletico
Manchester City’s ill-tempered goalless draw away to Atletico Madrid was enough to secure a hard-fought 1-0 aggregate victory in their Champions League quarter-final.
Leading from the first leg thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s goal, Man City retained their advantage in front of a boisterous Wanda Metropolitano crowd to progress to the last four.
There were nervy moments late on as Atletico pushed hard for the goal despite Felipe’s red card in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.
Ederson was forced into a 102nd minute save from substitute Angel Correa to ensure it is Man City who will play Real Madrid in the semi-final.
Oblak (6); Llorente (7), Savic (5), Felipe (4), Reinildo (7), Renan Lodi (7); Koke (6), Kondogbia (8), Lemar (7); Griezmann (6), Joao Felix (6).
Subs: Carrasco (7), De Paul (6), Correa (7), Suarez (6), Cunha (6).
Man City: Ederson (6); Walker (7), Stones (8), Laporte (8), Cancelo (7); Rodri (6), Gundogan (6), Bernardo (6); Mahrez (6), De Bruyne (6), Foden (7).
Subs: Sterling (6), Ake (7), Fernandinho (6).
Man of the match: Geoffrey Kondogbia
How Man City came through this test
Atletico had been criticised for their shot-shy performance in Manchester but there was more intent from the outset in Madrid, showcasing their trademark aggressive approach.
The supporters booed Pep Guardiola’s name and jeered the taking of a knee. When the game kicked off, Felipe’s brutal challenge on Phil Foden drew blood from his head.
Foden played on with a bandage and City tried to play their football despite the hostility, almost finding the breakthrough goal when Ilkay Gundogan struck the foot of the post.
Diego Simeone made one change to the Atletico Madrid that lost the first leg but it was an attacking one. Thomas Lemar came into the side for full-back Sime Vrsaljko, with Marcos Llorente dropping back.
Pep Guardiola made two changes to the Manchester City team that drew with Liverpool as Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling make way for Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez. There was a place on the bench for Ruben Dias.
But Diego Simeone’s side redoubled their efforts after the interval, pushing more players forward and raising the tempo, with Antoine Griezmann firing just wide of the post.
Injuries to De Bruyne and Kyle Walker added to the sense of jeopardy as Simeone’s triple substitution midway through the second half heaped pressure on the away side.
But when Felipe was finally sent off for another foul on Foden, the job seemed to be done against their increasingly desperate hosts. Stefan Savic somehow stayed on the pitch despite an apparent headbutt on Raheem Sterling and then pull on Jack Grealish’s hair as tempers flared while Foden lay injured.
And yet, it still required a save from Ederson with all but the last kick of the game to deny Correa. Manchester City were through. Just.
Stones: We kept our tempers
“We know they sometimes try to make things happen like that,” said John Stones of the stoppage-time melee that culminated in Felipe’s red card, when speaking to BT Sport.
“I thought we dealt with it really well. I don’t want to dwell on it too much because over two legs I thought we played incredibly against such an experienced team.
“I am so proud of the lads today, how we kept our control, kept our tempers. It is so easy to get drawn into stuff like that. I am so happy to be through. A great night.”
Champions League semi-final draw
- Man City vs Real Madrid
- Liverpool vs Villarreal
First legs to be played April 26/27; Second legs to be played May 3/4
Final to be played in Paris on May 28
What’s next for Man City & Atletico Madrid?
Manchester City face title rivals Liverpool again on Saturday as they head to Wembley for the semi-final of the FA Cup; kick-off at 3.30pm. Pep Guardiola’s side are back in Premier League action against Brighton on Wednesday as they look to maintain their slender one-point advantage at the top of the table.
Atletico Madrid return to La Liga action on Saturday afternoon as they play host to mid-table Espanyol; kick-off at 3.15pm. Diego Simeone’s side then face relegation-threatened Granada on Wednesday, hoping to stave off pressure from Real Betis and Real Sociedad for fourth spot; kick-off at 6pm.