Philip was sent off late as the battle of Manchester City passed to Atlético de Madrid Champions League

He was fraught, he was suffocating, he was full of blood – they sound like turnover. And for Manchester City, it wasn’t about whether they could add to their first leg in this quarter-final of the Champions League, but whether they could hold on.

It’s hard to remember that Pep Guardiola’s swashbucklers have been stuck in their own half for so long, but that was precisely what happened for the entire second period. If they had won in the first half, but it was a different story after the break, Atlético de Madrid – incited by a noisy and partisan crowd – would suffocate them, force them, asking awkward questions.

Could Atlético make the discovery? The answer was no. Despite a few heartbreaking moments, City kept the back door closed and it seemed completely in line with volcanic currents that the tie ended in a mess of bank emptiness after Felipe, already reserved in the first half, went to Phil Foden. and beat him again.

Felipe will eventually be sent out, after the warring factions were appreciated apart, but all that City mattered was the result. Gündogan almost grabbed it for them in the end. The city’s Champions League dream comes true.

The prize was a semi-final meeting with Real Madrid, the leaders of the Spanish league had advanced 24 hours earlier after what was an epic match against Chelsea across the city. Needless to say, the expectation of another classic was low at the time of the kick-off, mainly due to what happened in the first round – when Atlético failed to shoot – and also the way Diego Simeone had said he would not change. their approach. Simeon’s idea was just to be tighter, faster, more accurate, better.

Guardiola had to find the right balance. It has been a difficult season for Atlético, their league title defense for so long – they are fourth in the table, one point behind Real Betis in the fifth – but they continue to know their way into this competition. It was a sixth quarterfinal in nine seasons for them. Guardiola’s watchword was focused.

A bandaged Phil Foden beats Marcos Llorente for the ball. Photo: Bagu Blanco / Pressinphoto / Shutterstock

The atmosphere was pulsating, the stadium packed and noisy, loud whistles for every spell of city possession. It was the same when the visiting players took the knee before the kick-off, which was discounted.

Atlético brought the confusion to the start and the key for City was always whether he could be composed on the ball and play his way to trouble. When Kyle Walker, under pressure first, sent a free ball in touch and the crowd screamed, Guardiola applauded like a maniac, hands over his head. He wanted his team to enjoy possession; so as not to be intimidated.

The first half was measured in one-on-one duels, the first flash point came when Felipe jumped on the back of Foden while they were fighting an aerial battle, the center center pounding his opponent with a fierce boat of the upper body.

Foden lay motionless for a worrying period before getting up after treatment, bleeding and bandaging. Remarkably, Felipe avoided a reservation, although he changed quickly as he passed Kevin De Bruyne’s back. Atlético wanted to leave a few business cards. For City, it was a test of nerves.

The city came to the forefront as the half progressed, Atlético’s initial growth slowed. The Guardiola players could smell victory in the air.

The visitors had approached him from a corner, John Stones made a firm head start, but failed to keep up the attempt. They created a great chance of the half in the 30th minute, Riyad Mahrez spreading with a beautiful pass in the full-back for the advancing Walker. Mahrez was in a good mood, all balance easy and dancing feet.

Walker crossed and, when Foden moved away from beyond the far post, Gündogan had a chance to shoot close. He grabbed the post and his head on the rebound was blocked by Felipe. At least Atlético took a shot before the interval, even if it was just one and Geoffrey Kondogbia the 35th minute of effort deflected from distance was entirely routine for Ederson.

The needle never looked far from the surface, Simeone demanded a yellow card for the Stones – and did not get one – after the deflected defender João Félix, whose threat was obvious. But the equation for the city was the same in the second half. Keep calm and assertive, and don’t make mistakes.

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Atlético took a higher step on the restart, bringing the aggression once more and they had to shoot in front of the goal, which the home crowd was ultra quick to recover. Renan Lodi’s cross was too far in front of Félix, the striker headed in a cross from Marcos Llorente and Antoine Griezmann was just outside the goal from the edge of the area.

The tide had changed, even Commander Rodri had been robbed of possession, and City struggled to get on the field. De Bruyne looked boyish and Guardiola replaced him with Raheem Sterling, hoping he might have something to stand on.

Atlético pressed, City happy to preserve what they had, and it felt like a risky game. Atlético had them where they wanted them. Can they find a way through? His replacement, Rodrigo De Paul, curled slightly wide, while another substitute, Matheus Cunha, saw a shot blocked by Stones.

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