- Tom Cayless
Review and Player Ratings from Atleti brawl – Atletico Madrid 0-0 (0-1) Manchester City
In a game that had everything but a goal, Manchester City drew 0-0 in the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid which was enough to progress into the semi-final of this year's UEFA Champions League.
Prior to the game, much was said about what Pep Guardiola would do regarding the team. Would Fernandinho start after his announcement at the press conference? With Joao Cancelo and Kevin De Bruyne both being on a yellow card, would they start? And finally, who will make up the front three?
All those questions were answered when the lineup was released 75 minutes before kick-off. The City boss made two changes from the side that faced Liverpool on Sunday with Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan coming in for Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, who was suspended.
Known for their expertise in the 'dark arts of football', it took just Diego Simeone's side just 12 minutes to all but force a City player off injured. With the ball in the air, Brazillian centre-half Felipe strung up and launched himself into the back of Phil Foden, who was quite clearly ahead of the defender.
City's No.47 went down under the assault-like challenge and was cautiously treated for three and a half minutes by the City medical staff before a bandage was applied around his head. The Atelti defender somehow came away with no card.
After a tight opening 15 minutes, City started to exert themselves onto the hosts, finding more time on the ball as gaps started to open up. As a result of their dominance, the Blues created the first big opportunity of the game.
Mahrez played an exquisite ball through the Atletico defence to Kyle Walker. The English right-back zipped the ball over to Foden at the back-post, who squared it to Gundogan – but the German's left-footed effort struck the post from the penalty spot.
Guardiola's side continued to grind out a really mature performance, as the half-time whistle loomed. The Premier League champions continued to control both the tempo and the ball with ease and looked comfortably the better side going into the break.
With noise levels rising inside the state of the art Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico began their second-half attack on City's goal and edged closer through Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman had an effort blocked just wide of Ederson's right-post 10 minutes into the second period by Aymeric Laporte.
As the clock ran down and time diminished, roles reversed between the two sides. Guardiola's elegant orchestra started to play a more destructive heavy metal tone, with more men deeper and behind the ball protecting their goal from Simeone's onslaught.
The likes of Luis Suarez, Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha were all brought on by the Argentine manager and the latter two almost combined for an equaliser but were denied by a world-class block from John Stones.
Then, just before the final whistle blew, all hell broke loose after Felipe viciously brought down Foden. Oleksandr Zinchenko ran over to help the England international up before Stefan Savic sprinted over and attempted to drag Foden off the pitch – consequently unleashing a brawl between both sets of players, with the likes of Nathan Ake and Jack Grealish getting involved.
Felipe was sent off after things had temporarily calmed down.
That anger spilt over into the final encounters too, with what can only be described as a battle between the two sets of players – but City kept their heads under immense pressure and progressed into the semi-final.
The antics didn't stop there, though, with BT Sport reporting after the game that Grealish and Savic had been caught in a 'physical altercation', with Spanish police involved.
Ederson - 8
Walker - 7
Laporte - 8
Stones - 8
Cancelo - 7
Rodri - 7
De Bruyne - 6
Gundogan - 7.5
Silva - 6
Foden - 7.5
Mahrez - 7
Substitutes: Sterling (6.5), Ake (8), Fernandinho (7)
Well, what a game that was. It had literally everything but a goal. City showed immense character and gut to get through that without anyone losing it after the constant provocation from the Atletico players. The Blues defended unbelievably well in what was like a cauldron of fire and got the job done – a big shoutout to Ake who was immense when he came on.
They'll now travel back to Madrid when they face Real in the semi-finals. However, they will be without Joao Cancelo who faces a one-game suspension after picking up a booking tonight. De Bruyne and Walker will likely need assessment after injury problems forced the pair off.
Written by: @TomCayless_
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