- Adwitya Jha
Review and Player Ratings from huge KDB and Foden inspired win – Manchester City 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Manchester City had to be patient for over an hour to find a breakthrough against the dogged defence of Atletico Madrid. Phil Foden's brilliance turned out to be the difference, as he weaved his way through the Atletico wall and slid in Kevin De Bruyne for City's winning goal.
Pep Guardiola and his side will know that the job is still as tough as before going into the second leg with only one goal separating the sides. Guardiola now has a balancing act on his hands as between the two legs is the massive, potentially title-deciding game on the weekend against Liverpool. City, though, will carry a great deal of confidence into that game after a solid showing tonight.
Despite Pep's comments about playing with 12 men, City named only 11 players for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. There were 3 changes to the side that started at Turf Moor at the weekend, with Kyle Walker, Foden and Jack Grealish making way for John Stones, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez. Walker served his third and final suspension for his red card against RB Leipzig earlier in the tournament.
The game started in a cagey fashion with Joao Cancelo's shot from distance the only shot in the first 10 minutes. City picked up the pace with a cross from the Portugal international flying just over the head of Ilkay Gundogan; the ball was then picked up by De Bruyne on the edge of the box before his shot was blocked behind for a corner.
There was also a penalty shout for the Blues shortly after when Bernardo Silva went down in the box, but the shouts were waved off by the referee. Subsequent replays showed that Koke had just about got a touch on the ball.
But that was about it with respect to goalmouth action for the first half. City's tactics seemed to involve a high volume of crosses into the box – but for that to work, the quality of crosses needed to improve for the second half. The crosses had either been under-hit or overhit, with the Atletico defence dealing with everything quite comfortably in the first half.
Guardiola's side were camped in the Atletico half with only Ederson left back in the City half for the majority of the half. Atleti defended with two lines of five and were able to keep the Premier League champions at bay. If City were to win this game, it felt it would take a moment of brilliance or something special to score against such a resolute defence.
The second half started positively with both teams fashioning chances. Gundogan had a shot just blocked wide, and Aymeric Laporte headed the ensuing corner just over the bar when he could have done a bit better.
Atletico had two breaks shortly after the break, but could not make anything of it; City doing enough to snuff out the danger. But it became evident that they needed to change something if they were to score themselves. Pep duly obliged bringing on Foden, Grealish and Gabriel Jesus for Gundogan, Mahrez and Raheem Sterling around the 70th minute.
And it immediately paid off when the mercurial Stockport lad weaved his way through the Atleti bus and nutmegged a pass through Reinildo's legs to De Bruyne, who coolly slotted the ball past Jan Oblak to finally break the deadlock. It only took 79 seconds for Foden to come off the bench and shift the game in City's favour.
But the goal didn't change Atletico's game plan as they continued to sit back and limit the damage. Foden was having none of it, though, when he magicked his way down the right-hand side, beating three Atleti players and then tried to cut it back. The ball did find its way to De Bruyne eventually, but he scuffed his shot and it was blocked. Foden then played a beautiful outside of the foot pass to the Belgian, but he was not able to make much out of it.
Atletico though seemed to have lost their heads in the final 10 minutes of the game. Constant play-acting and fouls made the final 10 minutes of the game disjointed. Angel Correa perhaps should have been shown a red when he kicked the ball into Grealish's face whilst the England international was on the ground. Geoffrey Kondogbia probably spent more time on the ground holding various parts of his body than he spent in possession.
Overall it was a good game for City, with the only blemish being that Jesus will be suspended for the second leg in Madrid for a second yellow card, which really could have been avoided. But Guardiola and his side will be happy to go into Madrid with a lead in the tie.
Ederson - 6
Ake - 8
Laporte - 7
Stones - 7
Cancelo - 7
Rodri - 6
Gundogan - 6
De Bruyne - 8
Sterling - 6
Mahrez - 6
Subs – Jesus - 6, Grealish - 6, Foden - 9
Written by: @adwitya16
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