Kevin De Bruyne’s second half strike secured a vital 1-0 victory for Manchester City over Atletico Madrid in a tense Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Etihad on Tuesday evening.
There was nothing to separate the two teams until De Bruyne, assisted by Phil Foden with his first touch off the bench, buried the ball past Jan Oblak to put City in control ahead of the return leg in the Spanish capital next week.
A clash of two European titans packed very little punch in the opening 45 minutes. City asked all the questions, but the impeccably disciplined Atletico provided all the answers. Bernardo Silva evoked the loudest roar from the home crowd when his penalty shout was turned down on 15 minutes.
In the second half, the intensity gauge was ramped up. With twenty minutes to play, substitute Foden picked the lock with his first touch, feeding De Bruyne who coolly slotted the ball past Oblak into the bottom corner, a decisive goal which gives City the advantage heading into the second leg.
Both sides must now switch their attention back to domestic duties. A huge encounter awaits Manchester City who take on fellow title challengers Liverpool at the Etihad in the Premier League on Sunday. As for Atletico Madrid, they return to La Liga action with a trip to Mallorca on Saturday.
City seeking vengeance. There is no doubt that the agony of falling at the final hurdle in last year’s final will be a catalyst for City, who began the quest to heal their hurting in bullish fashion. In the first half, Guardiola’s side struggled to make their dominance count and were unable to grind down a stubborn wall of red and white. As a collective, they channelled their winning mentality and with that they picked the lock to Atletico’s resistance. One inspired change, one incisive pass and one instinctive finish have put the key to the semi-final in City’s hands. They have it all to do in Madrid but they have put themselves in the driving seat towards the holy grail that has eluded them.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin De Bruyne (City) The milestone man, the match winner, the star of the night. De Bruyne marked his 50th Champions League appearance in a City shirt with a decisive goal which gives his team a psychological advantage going into the second leg. In typical fashion, the Belgian was in the right place at the right time to deliver the goods by first-class post into the bottom corner. City were made to work incredibly hard against a stifling Atletico defence but when the opportunity presented itself, courtesy of some Foden finesse, De Bruyne showed his class in clinical fashion. If City are going to win the tournament this year, the Belgian midfielder will be a vital weapon in their armoury.
City: Ederson 7, Stones 7, Laporte 7, Ake 7, Cancelo 7, Rodri 7, Gundogan 7, Bernardo Silva 7, De Bruyne 8, Mahrez 7, Sterling 7.
Subs: Grealish 7, Foden 7, Gabriel Jesus 6.
Atletico: Oblak 6, Vrsaljko 6, Savic 6, Felipe 6, Reinildo 6, Lodi 6, Kondogbia 6, Koke 6, Llorente 6, Felix 5, Griezmann 5.
Subs: De Paul 6, Lemar 5, Correa 5, Cunha 5.
69’ GOAL! CITY 1-0 ATLETICO (DE BRUYNE)
Finally, the deadlock is broken and it’s City who have picked the lock! Foden, who has just come onto the pitch, feeds De Bruyne on the right side of the box, the Belgian coolly slots past Oblak into the opposite corner and the Etihad is rocking!