Manchester City secured their place in the Champions League semifinals for the second consecutive season after a fiery goalless draw with Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday saw them progress 1-0 on aggregate.
Kevin de Bruyne’s goal at the Etihad last week proved to be decisive against an Atletico side that showed more attacking endeavor in front of their own fans but lacked a cutting edge over the two matches.
Diego Simeone’s increasingly frustrated side finished the match with 10 men following a second yellow card for Felipe amid a heated melee in the final minutes. Those scuffles then continued into the tunnel following the final whistle, with police having to intervene.
City, who still had to withstand some intense Atletico pressure in the second half, will now take on Real Madrid in the last four as they look to make it back to the final.
“It wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure,” City midfielder Rodri told reporters afterward.
“We were tired in the second half because of the calendar, we had a very intense match on the weekend with Liverpool and we were out of legs in the end.”
Still, Atletico felt they deserved more and criticized how City tried to run down the clock.
“When Atletico play the way City played today, we are very criticised. Let’s see what people say today,” captain Koke told Movistar Plus.
“I’m proud of my teammates for the effort they have made, nothing to blame the team for. We’ve had our chances, we haven’t taken advantage of them and congratulations to the rival, but Atleti deserved more.”
In contrast to the first leg, Atletico started far more aggressively, pressuring City high and looking to disrupt the visitors’ rhythm. Phil Foden paid a price for Atletico’s intimidation tactics, requiring lengthy treatment and a bandage round his head after a strong aerial challenge from behind by Felipe.
But City withstood that early pressure and began to assume their familiar control of proceedings. Pep Guardiola’s side had the first half’s clearest chance, too, when Ilkay Gundogan tried to side-foot into the bottom corner of the net amid a goalmouth scramble only to see his effort come back off the foot of the post.
It wasn’t until the 35th minute that Atletico forced Ederson into his first save of the night and the tie. But it was only in the second half that they began to seriously threaten the City goal.
Joao Felix might have done better with a free header that he mistimed from 12 yards, while Antoine Griezmann fired wide from just outside of the box when he ought to have found the target.
As the crowd in Madrid that felt more like a cauldron roared their team on, City showed real signs of discomfort for the first time. And in a frantic final five minutes, John Stones was required to make a heroic block to deny a point-blank shot from Matheus Cunha, while Jan Oblak and Ederson were forced into strong saves at either end.
Ultimately, though, Atletico failed to make the visitors pay. And as the clock ticked toward the 90th minute, Atletico proved their own worst enemy when reacting to what they saw as theatrics from Foden and losing precious time and a man with Felipe seeing red.
After two games against Atletico that sandwiched a top-of-the-table Premier League clash against Liverpool, Manchester City remain on course for the treble ahead of the Saturday FA Cup semifinal, once again against Liverpool.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.