Kevin De Bruyne struck in the second half as Manchester City finally broke down a stubborn Atlético to claim a narrow lead in the first leg of their quarter-final.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal to give Manchester City a slender first-leg win against a typically stubborn Atlético side in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final between the champions of England and Spain.
City dominated possession in the first half – with 70% of the ball – but neither side registered an effort on target in the opening period.
The home team had more clear chances after the break, De Bruyne’s free-kick stopped by Jan Oblak, who then cleared the loose ball with Rodri closing in, before Aymeric Laporte headed over from a corner.
Both sides made a triple substitution and City’s had an instant impact as one of the replacements, Phil Foden, immediately played in De Bruyne for the opener.
That proved to be the only goal on a night of few chances, as City take a narrow lead to Spain for next week’s second leg.
Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City midfielder, speaking to 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. We have to stay composed. 1-0 is 1-0. I expect similar over there. If the game is tight they will have to attack a little bit more.”
Rio Ferdinand, BT Sport
“City were tested – can you break down what’s in front of you? It didn’t work in the first half but they didn’t give up.”
Jan Oblak, Atlético goalkeeper: “We all knew that this would be a complicated experience. We came looking for a good result, we lost but at 1-0 down the tie is still very much all to play for. We defended really well throughout the match with the sole exception of their goal. City play using possession as a strength but we were clear headed all night, we closed space down and I don’t think it was specifically their substitutions that changed the game – just that one moment.”
Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager, speaking to BT Sport: “We played an incredible top side who are difficult to face, but it is a good result. We had chances to score a second and third. The guys were playing well but with Gabriel [Jesus] coming inside it gave us special energy, and with Jack [Grealish] to keep the ball. The manager is so clever.”
Diego Simeone, Atlético manager: “A good performance against an extraordinary team which manages to unite lots of world class footballers into a superb unit. We wanted to defend well, squeeze spaces and hit them on the counterattack. But just as we looked like creating our best opportunities they scored.”