Kevin De Bruyne was the hero as Manchester City overcame Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium.
The first leg of the Champions League quarter-final was tough, with City holding the ball but finding it difficult to break out of Diego Simeone’s side.
With 20 minutes left, De Bruyne finished off a cool bout for Jan Oblak to give City a small hike to Madrid next Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola joked during the pre-match that he would think too much of the game and call up 12 players, and he probably wished he had done it in the first half when Atletico sat back and frustrated their opponents.
The visitors played a 5-5-0 formation out of the game and City struggled to find their way. De Bruyne had a deflected shot behind the corner, while John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan both posted attempts high over the post from a distance.
Atletico did not score, and almost touched half of City, in the first 45 minutes which did not work very well.
There was more fun in the two minutes after the break than the whole first session. Gundogan made the shot bend to the side, and in the corner of the net Atletico quickly bounced off Antoine Griezmann, although he lost his momentum and the opportunity went by.
De Bruyne got a saved free-kick and was hit by Oblak in the second attempt before Aymeric Laporte hit the head over the corner post.
Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Gabriel Jesus were all introduced in the middle of the second half, and within two minutes City took the lead.
It was Foden who provided the help, with his first involvement on the bench, as he played the right ball for De Bruyne who scored under Oblak and in the far corner.
Atletico have shown little desire to push the equalizer in the rest of the game, with a strong focus on getting Grealish to be treated badly at every opportunity. The Spanish team failed to try even a single shot in the game.
It is a two-week period that will define City’s season, and next week’s second leg against Atletico is tied with games against Liverpool first in the Premier League and then the FA Cup. The first task in the list has been completed successfully.