Football Features

Player ratings as “the most unique player around” lifts Manchester City to beat Atlético Madrid 1-0

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:22, 5 April 2022

In a tight and tense night of football, Manchester City beat Atlético Madrid 1-0 in the Champions League quarter-final.

Pep Guardiola’s men controlled the entire match and restricted Diego Simeone’s side to 0 shots on target for the first-time ever as they secured a huge first-leg victory.

Here’s how the players rated at the Etihad:


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Manchester City

Ederson – 6 – Had almost nothing to do. Did almost nothing well, though.

Joao Cancelo – 8 – Simply sublime in a composed, controlling kind of way. He basically ran the show as a midfielder.

John Stones – 7 – Solid enough. Advanced the ball well.

Aymeric Laporte – 7 – A rock at the back, cutting off what few attacks Atleti could generate. Missed a sitter from a corner though.

Nathan Ake – 7 – A decent display defensively, helping keep Atleti caged in,

Rodri – 7 – Kept things ticking over nicely but also looked a bit sloppy when he tried for more penetrative passes, although of course the move for the goal began with his pass breaking the first Atleti defensive line.

Kevin De Bruyne – 8 – The game-winner. City’s best player stood tall for them in the second-half with a superb run and finish to absolutely drill the ball low beyond Jan Oblak. Was City’s most prolific creator besides that and a constant danger for Atleti; you get the sense that if City had a top-class goalscorer at the head of their attack De Bruyne’s assist numbers would shoot up. As it is, he has six goals and five assists in his last 12 knock-out games.

“We handled that pretty well,” said De Bruyne after the match. “The way we played was good because we didn’t give anything away.” Of his goal, the Belgian added: “I made the run and Phil just found me perfectly so I just needed to stay composed.”

Ilkay Gundogan – 7 – Kept the ball moving and made some very tasty runs into the box.

Riyad Mahrez – 5 – On the whole, the only City player who disappointed. Consistently had chances to really take his man on and provide a bit of direct play yet always gave up those chances to keep possession circulating.

Bernardo Silva – 8 – Press, pass, move into space. Press, pass, move into space. Over and over again. Keeps it all ticking in time.

Raheem Sterling – 7 – A direct threat in behind the Atleti defence with some dazzling dribbling.



Manchester City Substitutes:

Gabriel Jesus (for Sterling 68′) – 6 – Came on, provided a bit of a reference.

Jack Grealish (for Gundogan 68′) – 6 – His mere presence seemed to enrage the Atleti players who spent the 22 minutes he was on the field kicking him over and over again.

Phil Foden (for Foden 68′) – 8 – The game-changing presence. Created the game-winner seconds after coming off the bench with a delicious bit of control and a devilish pass. A really bright showing from Foden whose direct approach completely confounded Atleti who were used to a more patient rhythm, something Foden has no interest in.

Rio Ferdinand was fulsome in his praise on BT Sport after the match, saying: “Phil Foden in this situation; he doesn’t get hazy. The picture stays clear, HD, 4K, whatever you like. He can see it clearly.”

“He could play at a world-class level in four or five different positions,” said Owen Hargreaves, who later said “Phil’s 1 of 1, he’s the most unique player around.”


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Atlético Madrid

Jan Oblak – 6 – Made some decent saves, couldn’t stop De Bruyne though.

Felipe – 8 – He wouldn’t have played if Josema Giménez was fit, but the Brazilian was absolutely excellent. Made a game-high 10 clearances and consistently found a way to get City’s crosses and passes out of harm’s way.

Stefan Savic – 7 – A steady hand on the till at the heart of Atleti’s defence.

Reinildo – 5 – As at Old Trafford, Reinildo ruined a great night’s work with one moment of sloppy play on the City goal. Had been flawless up to that point, constantly repelling Pep’s men.

Sime Vrsaljko – 7 – Battled hard down the right but was mostly just fouling Sterling and especially Grealish.

Marcos Llorente – 7 – Patrolled passing lanes well to keep City out. Taken off as Simeone refreshed midfield.

Koke – 7 – Quality battling performance at the heart of midfield until he was taken off to add more energy.

Geoffrey Kondogbia – 7 – Really impressive defensive display at the heart of midfield.

Renan Lodi – 7 – Defended well but didn’t offer enough on the break.

Joao Felix – 7 – Worked his heart out defensively with a game-high 4 interceptions and looked Atleti’s only source of danger, but was just not supported enough. He really belongs in a more attack-minded side.

Antoine Griezmann – 5 – A couple of decent runs on the counter-attack in the second-half but was mostlu a space-filler in defence.

Atlético Madrid Substitutes:

Rodrigo de Paul (for Koke 60′) – 6 – Added a bit of fire.

Angel Correa (for Griezmann 60′) – 6 – Got stuck in.

Matheus Cunha (for Llorente 60′) – 5 – Couldn’t really impact the game.

Thomas Lemar (for Joao Felix 81′) – n/a – Came on late.

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