UEFA Champions League quarter-final: Kevin de Bruyne puts Manchester City ahead over Atletico Madrid | Soccer News
Manchester City have a slim lead from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final after Kevin De Bruyne’s 70th-minute goal earned them a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday April 5. It was a result City had to face an Atletico side who had clearly traveled to England simply aiming to deny opportunities from Pep Guardiola’s side and failed to produce a single shot framework.
Diego Simeone’s side had frustrated City throughout the first half with their deep defense and reliance on the occasional counter to threaten the hosts. City ran the ball with their usual expertise and made it difficult for Atletico to break out of their deep defensive formation, never over committing.
But the Premier League champions were unable to turn their total dominance of possession into clean-cut chances, with Aymeric Laporte having one of the best chances after the break but the defender’s header from a corner was off target . Atletico’s rare breaks reminded City that they needed to maintain some discipline, although when the Spaniards created an opening Marcos Llorente failed to test Ederson.
City kept their form and moved the ball well, but it took the introduction of substitute Phil Foden to find the missing ingredient. Foden, who came on with Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus, drew three defenders towards him before splitting the Spanish rear guard with a perfectly weighted pass to De Bruyne who passed goalkeeper Jan Oblak with a side finish.
The best first touch in football?
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 5, 2022
De Bruyne then had space for another goal attempt, which was blocked well by defender Stefan Savic’s outstretched foot. The second leg is at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano next Wednesday, but before that City have a crucial home clash against Premier League title rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
De Bruyne said it had been difficult to break down a team playing with such numbers behind the ball. “It’s very difficult. They played with almost five at the back and with five in the midfield. I recommend to anyone who says anything…that they try to play against that on the training ground.
“We have to stay calm and not try to get into their action. It’s their way of playing. A zero is a zero. I expect the same there. If the match is close, they will have to attack a little more,” added the Belgian.
Guardiola was happy with how his team approached the contest. “We faced an incredible team, which was tough to play against, but it’s a good result,” he said, while praising his players for avoiding some of the game’s potential trouble spots.
“It’s not easy to face a team that has a lot of experience in this tournament. We will go there to score and try to win again,” he added.
Simeone was full of praise for City and said the first-half display was largely down to Atletico’s opponents rather than their tactics. “We didn’t play the way we wanted in the first half, we couldn’t get away. It was a bit better after the break but City are the best team in the world. They scored so many goals at home lately,” he said.
“But it’s half-time and let’s see how the second game in Madrid goes.”