Ugly scenes marred Manchester City booking their place in this season’s Champions League semi-finals.
Pep Guardiola’s men visited Atletico Madrid for the second leg of their quarter-final tie defending a slender 1-0 aggregate lead.
Kevin De Bruyne was the difference maker in Manchester a week ago. The Belgian playmaker and company were unable to extend their advantage, but neither could Diego Simeone’s charges overturn the deficit.
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Instead, an emotionally-charged game reached a boiling point in the final minutes when tempers flared after Phil Foden was brought down following a Felipe tackle. Stefan Savic attempted to drag the England international to his feet, but Foden’s team-mates came flying in to help him, which resulted in a 20-odd player brawl.
Felipe subsequently received a yellow card, his second of the game, following that three more players — all wearing a City jersey — would go into the referee’s book.
Savic, who formerly represented City, was at the heart of everything. He was seen to have pulled Jack Grealish’s hair and no sooner after that his manager, who after the game said his side were starting to “give our people everything they wanted”, ran onto the pitch to yell at him. Foden would be seen laughing in bemusement behind the Montenegrin centre-back.
0 – Stefan Savić didn't commit a single foul over both legs of Atletico Madrid's quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Unexpected. pic.twitter.com/HDcHFgiyK0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 13, 2022
Nevertheless, the English champions kept their cool and sealed a goalless draw that will see them meet 13-time European champions Real Madrid in the final four. This was City’s 100th Champions League game – although they failed to win or score tonight, they are outright second for most wins (55) and goals (201) in their first 100 games in the competition, behind only Real for both (won 57 and scored 202).
On top of that, since the introduction of the last-16 stage in 2003-04, City are only the fourth side to keep a clean sheet in both legs of the last-16 and quarter-final in a season, along with AC Milan (2004-05), Arsenal (2005-06) and Juventus (2016-17) — all of whom reached the final (and all lost).
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Guardiola has now reached his ninth Champions League semi-final, the most of any manager in the history of the competition (four with Barcelona, three with Bayern Munich, two with City). Known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, passions at the Wanda Metropolitano didn’t go away following the full-time whistle as footage emerged of a tunnel brawl — much to former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand’s annoyance.
“Distasteful behaviour from the Atletico players, they should be embarrassed with some of the antics they have gone on with,” he told BT Sport.
“You have to say, talking about football, well done to Atletico Madrid as they made Manchester City play in a way we haven’t seen for a long time, took them out of their rhythm and their stride. But, some of the stuff towards the end was not what you want to see on a football pitch.”