Manchester City went into Tuesday’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid hoping to accomplish something their cross-town rivals, Manchester United, had failed to do: score a home goal against Diego Simeone’s side, which they did with Kevin De Bruyne breaking down the Atleti wall in a 1-0 victory.
Both teams nullified each other in the first half, with Atletico demonstrating some exquisite defensive resolve and Manchester City moving the ball superbly.
With that in mind, and despite the hosts’ dominance, Jan Oblak did not have to make a save in the first 45 minutes.
The Blues were on the lookout for the perfect pass, but Los Colchoneros’ stacked defense made it impossible for them to find it.
The home fans were enraged at Koke’s early challenge on Bernardo Silva, believing it was deserving of a penalty, despite the fact that neither the referee nor the VAR crew agreed.
Although the Portuguese international showed flashes of his technical brilliance, combining nicely with Koke and Reinildo on counter-attacking plays, Joao Felix had a thankless assignment leading the line for the visitors.
When Joao Cancelo shepherded the ball back to Ederson, he fell asleep temporarily, allowing Reinildo to steal it from him. However, the Mozambican defender was unable to find either Felix or Antoine Griezmann in the area, letting City off the hook with a pass to no one in red and white.
As both sides attempted to rest their players in the second half, it took until the 70th minute for City to finally break past the Spanish champions’ defensive wall.
Just minutes before the goal, Phil Foden came on and played a brilliant pass into the path of De Bruyne, who took advantage of Reinildo falling asleep and allowing the Belgian to rush in behind him.
The former Wolfsburg playmaker had the best view of Oblak’s goal of the night, and he didn’t waste it; side footed the ball past the Slovenian goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
De Bruyne’s shot from the edge of the box was then cleared off the line by former blue Stefan Savic, with the Atleti defense doing everything they could to keep the deficit to one going into the second leg in Madrid.
After a scuffle on the touchline between Angel Correa and Jack Grealish, Gabriel Jesus was given a late yellow card, meaning the Brazilian will miss the return match due to suspension.
Foden’s entrance caused several difficulties for Atletico on the right flank, taking advantage of a tired defensive line, and he again put De Bruyne through on goal with three minutes remaining, only for the Belgian to try a cutback that was cut out.
Aymeric Laporte looked to aim a headbutt at Matheus Cunha in the last seconds of the game but was only given a yellow card due to the referee not having a clear view of the incident.
Both coaches will be delighted with the result in certain ways, though Guardiola would have preferred a bigger lead to carry to Madrid, while Simeone believes his squad can score at least one goal at home.