Pep Guardiola praised Manchester Metropolis’s persistence after Kevin De Bruyne broke Atletico Madrid’s cussed resistance to clinch a 1-0 win in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg. Guardiola’s facet spent a lot of the night time banging their heads towards the crimson and white wall of Atletico’s massed defence on the Etihad Stadium. However Guardiola despatched on Phil Foden halfway by means of the second half and his elegant move teed up De Bruyne to lastly reward Metropolis for his or her territorial dominance.
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“I didn’t anticipate to win three or 4 nil. I knew who we had been going through. They’ve been collectively for a few years,” Guardiola mentioned.
“They defend so effectively, so compact and so deep. We had been affected person. You need to be towards these groups. They need you to be concerned.
“It’s a superb consequence. Sadly we had a pair extra possibilities with Kevin to attain once more.”
Whereas Guardiola launched a water bottle in a frenzied celebration that underlined what a testing night time it had been for his group, the Metropolis boss is aware of the tie is much from over.
“Even a 1-0 lead going to Madrid is hard,” Guardiola mentioned.
“We now have to manage our feelings. It will likely be a superb take a look at for us, our maturity. We’ll attempt to rating and win the sport.”
At the beginning of a season-defining 11 days for treble-chasing Metropolis, this was a professional success that justified their affected person efficiency.
However Atletico have already knocked out Manchester United within the final 16 this season, whereas Liverpool fell sufferer to Diego Simeone’s facet when the Reds had been the holders in 2019-20.
The Spanish champions will imagine they will trigger one other shock within the second leg in Madrid on April 13.
“It’s clear we had been taking part in towards a rare opponent. We now have to make use of a good way of defending and with out being embarrassed,” Simeone mentioned.
“We have to be higher, see if we will have the ball a bit extra within the second leg. Maybe we will create extra difficulties. We’re nonetheless within the tie.”
Metropolis haven’t any margin for error over the following two weeks because the Premier League leaders host Liverpool, only a level behind them within the title race, on Sunday.
They head to Madrid subsequent week earlier than going through Liverpool once more within the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley three days later.
Guardiola has typically been criticised for his curious group alternatives in earlier Champions League knockout stage defeats with Metropolis.
Nevertheless, Guardiola’s game-changing resolution to introduce Foden ought to silence a number of critics after it turned a troublesome night into an important victory.
“When the sport was a bit of bit flat, we knew we might change it with the substitutes,” Guardiola mentioned.
“Phil has a particular high quality.He had the composure to make an unimaginable help and Kevin is in one of the best second of his season.”
As ever, Metropolis monopolised possession, but they typically discovered themselves shuffling passes throughout midfield earlier than Atletico shut the door on them.
Simeone’s famously pragmatic strategy introduced a stark distinction to the purist rules espoused by Guardiola.
Step by step, Metropolis rose to the problem and Ilkay Gundogan went shut with a curling shot that deflected extensive off Stefan Savic quickly after the interval.
De Bruyne’s free-kick lastly pressured Jan Oblak’s first save, whereas Raheem Sterling dragged his effort effectively extensive from a harmful place moments later.
When Aymeric Laporte headed wastefully over from Riyad Mahrez’s nook, Guardiola had seen sufficient and he despatched on Foden, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus.
Foden’s arrival was an impressed transfer because the England ahead performed a key position when Metropolis ultimately broke by means of within the seventieth minute.
Taking possession outdoors the Atletico space, Foden shimmied away from two defenders and slipped a exact move to De Bruyne, who timed his run completely to drill a low strike into the far nook from a good angle.
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