It was once fraught, it was once suffocating, it was once full-blooded – completely as billed. And for Manchester City, it got here down to not whether or not they may upload to their first-leg lead on this Champions League quarter-final however whether or not they may grasp on.
It is hard to bear in mind Pep Guardiola’s swashbucklers being pinned inside of their very own half of for see you later however that was once exactly what came about for the whole thing of the second one duration. They had imposed themselves within the first-half but it surely was once a unique tale after the period, Atlético Madrid – instructed on via a loud and partisan crowd – choking them, compelled them again, asking uncomfortable questions.
Could Atlético make the step forward? The solution was once no. Despite a couple of heart-in-mouth moments, City saved the again door close and it appeared completely consistent with the volcanic currents that the tie resulted in a bench-emptying melee after Felipe, already booked within the first half of, went into Phil Foden and kicked him once more.
Felipe would in the end be despatched off, after the warring factions have been prised aside, however all City cared about was once the outcome. Gündogan nearly nicked it for them on the very finish. City’s Champions League dream stays alive.
The prize was once a semi-final assembly with Real Madrid, the Spanish league leaders having complex 24 hours up to now after what was once an epic towards Chelsea throughout the city. It needed to be mentioned that the expectancy of any other vintage was once low at kick-off time, basically on account of what had came about within the first leg – when Atlético didn’t muster a shot – and likewise how Diego Simeone had mentioned that he would now not adjust his way. Simeone’s concept was once merely to be tighter, faster, extra actual, higher.
Guardiola needed to in finding the proper stability. It has been a hard season for Atlético, their league name defence lengthy since over – they sit down fourth within the desk, one level transparent of Real Betis in 5th – however they proceed to grasp their manner round this festival. It was once a 6th quarter-final look in 9 seasons for them. Guardiola’s watchword were center of attention.
The setting pulsed, the stadium packed and noisy, shrill whistles for each and every City spell of ownership. It were the similar when the visiting gamers took the knee earlier than kick-off, which was once jarring.
Atlético introduced the hustle on the outset and the important thing for City was once all the time going to be whether or not they may stay composed at the ball and play their manner out of hassle. When Kyle Walker, underneath drive early on, despatched a free ball into contact and the gang howled, Guardiola applauded like a maniac, palms top above his head. He sought after his group to revel in having ownership; to not be intimidated.
The first half of was once measured in one-on-one duels, the primary flashpoint coming when Felipe jumped into the again of Foden as they contested an aerial combat, the centre-half cleansing out his opponent with a ferocious upper-body barge.
Foden lay immobile for a being worried duration earlier than emerging after remedy, bloodied and bandaged. Remarkably, Felipe have shyed away from a reserving, even though that quickly modified when he went throughout the again of Kevin De Bruyne. Atlético sought after to depart a couple of calling playing cards. For City, it was once a take a look at of nerve.
City were given directly to the entrance foot because the half of wore on, Atlético’s preliminary surge having ebbed. Guardiola’s gamers started to paintings them round, appearing their authority, and the idea took place that it stood to be a take a look at of the house group’s stamina.
The guests had long gone shut early on from a nook, John Stones creating a company headed connection however failing to stay the try down. They created the massive probability of the half of within the thirtieth minute, Riyad Mahrez sparking it with a fantastic move within the full-back for the advancing Walker. Mahrez was once within the temper, all simple stability and dancing toes.
Walker crossed and, when Foden laid off from past the some distance publish, Gündogan had the close-range taking pictures alternative. He hit the publish and his header at the rebound was once blocked via Felipe. At least Atlético were given a shot away earlier than the period, even though it was once just one and Geoffrey Kondogbia’s thirty fifth minute deflected effort from distance was once completely regimen for Ederson.
The needle by no means appeared some distance from the outside, Simeone challenging a yellow card for Stones – and now not getting one – after the defender hauled again João Félix, whose threat was once glaring. But the equation for City remained the similar in the second one half of. Remain calm and assertive, and are not making any errors.
Atlético stepped upper upon the restart, bringing the aggression all over again and so they had glints in entrance of purpose, which the house crowd have been extremely fast to get at the back of. Renan Lodi’s pass was once simply too some distance in entrance of Félix, the striker headed over from a Marcos Llorente centre and Antoine Griezmann was once narrowly astray from the brink of the realm.
The tide had grew to become, even the commanding Rodri getting robbed in ownership, and City struggled to rise up the pitch. De Bruyne looked to be limping and Guardiola changed him with Raheem Sterling, the hope being that he may just get one thing to stay up entrance.
Atlético pressed on, City satisfied to maintain what they’d, and it felt like a dangerous recreation. Atlético had them the place they sought after them. Could they be able thru? The replace, Rodrigo De Paul, curled simply extensive, whilst any other alternative, Matheus Cunha, noticed a shot blocked via Stones.