De Bruyne gives Manchester City the edge against Atletico Madrid

Pep Guardiola's side will take a 1-0 lead to Spain for second leg of their Champions League quarter-final

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Kevin De Bruyne struck 20 minutes from time as Manchester City grabbed a slender advantage in their Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid.

The Belgian playmaker fired home from a tight angle after Phil Foden came off the bench to stunning effect in a tense and tight first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

Atletico were their usual dogged, defensive selves for most of the game and frustrated City despite the hosts’ dominance of possession.

Yet the introduction of Foden as part of a triple substitution by Pep Guardiola in the 68th minute paid almost immediate dividends.

Within moments he had slipped in De Bruyne with a delicate through ball and he finished firmly to put City in control heading into next week’s second leg in the Spanish capital.

De Bruyne told BT Sport: "The first half was tight in the second half we had a couple of chances and it was good that we took one.

"I made the run and Phil [Foden] found me perfectly, I needed to stay composed and luckily I did. It's very hard. They played with almost five at the back and with five in midfield. I recommend anyone that says anything [about us], that they try playing against that on the training ground.

"We have to stay composed and don’t try to get into their action. It is the way they play. One nil is one nil. I expect similar over there. If the game is tight they will have to attack a little bit more."

Atletico boss Diego Simeone had promised Atletico would play their usual cagey game and he was as good as his word, forcing City to play patiently.

The first half was played at a slow tempo with City controlling most of the ball but, despite having all their outfield players in the final third at times, being unable to create openings.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola speaks with  Jack Grealish on the pitch after the game. AFP

De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo both had efforts deflected wide and Aymeric Laporte missed the target with a header.

Raheem Sterling felt he should have had a free-kick on the left edge of the area after a good run and Bernardo Silva went down in the box moments later but nothing was given.

Ilkay Gundogan shot well over and Rodri had a long-range effort blocked before De Bruyne had a penalty appeal turned down and John Stones also missed.

Yet still City were not greatly threatening and it was not until the second half they tried to inject more pace into their play.

This did open the game up slightly and Atletico almost capitalised with a couple of breaks from deep. Antoine Griezmann wasted one opening with a poor pass and Marcos Llorente chipped tamely at Ederson from another.

Yet it was a move that paid off as City began to threaten more. Gundogan had an effort deflected wide and City’s first serious chance came when De Bruyne forced Jan Oblak to save a low free-kick. Laporte then went close when he headed over from a corner.

City appealed for another penalty for a push by Reinildo on Sterling as he attempted to latch on to a De Bruyne through ball but referee Istvan Kovacs was not interested.

That proved Sterling’s final involvement as Guardiola took him off in the move that changed the game.

His decision paid off as Foden, who came on alongside Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus, teed up De Bruyne.

De Bruyne was quick to latch on to the opportunity and drilled a low shot past Oblak.

Foden created another chance for De Bruyne soon after following a tricky run to the byline but this time Atletico had enough players back to block.

Atletico then became the frustrated side and the game became scrappy and niggly before finally ending after several stoppages.

Updated: April 05, 2022, 9:27 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL