Manchester City will start next week with a good starting position in the return against Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The team of coach Pep Guardiola won the tough home game 1-0 on Tuesday.
For Manchester City, where Nathan Ake had a starting place, the assignment was simple: find a hole in the wall that Atlético Madrid erect around the penalty area. That finally happened in the seventieth minute, when Kevin De Bruyne was sent off nicely by substitute Phil Foden and then finished coolly.
It turned out to be a sparse highlight in the unspectacular game. Aké played concentrated and couldn’t catch a mistake. His most important action was perhaps in the fourth minute, when he entered the sprint duel with the escaped Marcos Llorente and came out on top with a clever sliding.
,,It was a tough game, because they were so close to each other defensively”, said De Bruyne afterwards. “We know they are solid, that’s the way they play and I think we played pretty well given the circumstances. We knew it would be difficult to create chances.”
,,They played very well in the first half, but we didn’t concede anything either. They practically played with five defenders and five midfielders and it was difficult to find spaces. If anyone wants to blame us about this match, I recommend that they try it on a training field.”
Watch De Bruyne’s goal below:
The game was a bit more fun after the break than before, but the pattern remained the same. Manchester City tried to play through Atlético’s defense through positional play, while the team of coach Diego Simeone lurked on the counter as usual. That did not yield much more than half chances for the visitors.
In the seventieth minute there was the reward for Manchester City, which needed a substitute from the agile Foden. The 21-year-old Englishman served De Bruyne tailor-made. The Belgian, who until then had not had a happy evening, pushed the ball into the far corner in a controlled manner.
Next Wednesday is the return in the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. It will eventually become clear which team will compete against the winner of the diptych between Chelsea and Real Madrid.
,,We defended very well in the first half,” said Atlético coach Diego Simeone, who couldn’t do much with the criticism he received for his defensive way of playing football. “If you appreciate the coordinated way of attacking, you should also appreciate the strong and controlled way of defending.” Atlético will have to show a little more for their own audience to have a chance of a place in the semi-finals. ,,We have to improve and try to have more ball possession,’ said Simeone. “We will have to be calm and patient.”
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