Champions League knockout matches are often decided by individual moments of brilliance, and Manchester City’s win over Atletico Madrid was no different.
The Spanish giants made life difficult for Pep Guardiola’s side with a resilient challenge at the Etihad Stadium.
Diego Simeone’s side posed a formidable challenge defensively and made the kind of aggressive display that established them as one of the toughest opponents in world football.
City unquestionably have quality in their squad, but the 1-0 win over Atletico can largely be attributed to Phil Foden’s immediate impact after coming off the bench.
It took just 80 seconds for the 21-year-old to provide the crucial quality moment to open the Spanish side, edging out Kevin de Bruyne who converted the decisive goal in the first leg.
The assist was his ninth of the season and his 20th goal contribution in 35 appearances for Guardiola’s side.
Foden was praised for his impact in such a crucial game, a stark contrast to young Atletico star Joao Felix.
The Portuguese striker is the fourth most expensive player of all time after joining Atletico for £113million from Benfica in 2019, where he was expected to prove his potential to be one of the best in the world.
Chelsea v Real LIVE reaction: Tuchel fumes over ‘one of the worst’ first half
Benzema joins Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski at elite club as Real Madrid beat Chelsea
Man United to ‘finalise’ Ten Hag deal, Derby latest, Chelsea and Everton in action
to come up
Failed Arsenal transfer could work with €60m ‘striking bull’ set to leave
Mane interrupts Diaz interview to kiss his new Liverpool team-mate after CL exploits
Atletico accused of ‘parasitic football’ and labeled ‘Sunday League bad ‘uns’
A tally of 10 goals and five assists in 32 appearances is by no means a bad tally for Felix, but given his undoubted talent, questions have been raised about his suitability for a place in Simeone’s defensive system. .
A player with pace, trickery and creativity to burn, Adrian Durham believes the player would be best served by stepping away from Simeone and his ‘anti-football’ approach.
Speaking after the game, Durham said: “I’ll call it what I see it: this Atletico Madrid team is an absolute disgrace.
“I will call them horrible, cheaters, anti-football, no desire to entertain. Simeone is a benchmark pest.
“The players are sneaky, out-dwelling, fake ‘uns in the Sunday League.
“Atletico Madrid have no desire to play football. If I were Joao Felix, I would ask for a transfer so that I could continue to be a professional footballer.
“Why anyone would want Simeone to be their manager, I don’t know.”
Durham wasn’t the only person unimpressed with Atletico’s approach, with Guardiola taking aim in his post-match comments.
He said he [Diego Simeone] put Griezmann on the far right and Joao Felix on the far left, and they went 5-5-0. Two lines of 5.
“And in prehistory, today and in a hundred thousand years, attacking a 5-5 is very difficult. It is that there is no space.
“Apart from the fact that they are very competitive and they defend very well, there is no space.”
Thanks to Foden, however, when City found him, they made him count.
Betting offer of the day
888sport: Get 10/1 Chelsea to win or 25/1 Real Madrid to win – CLAIM HERE
Deposit at least £/$/€10 using promo code 888ODDS • Bet up to £/$/€5 on your selection at normal regular market odds • If your selection wins, we’ll pay you the normal price and any additional winnings from the advertised enhanced prize will be paid out to you as free bets • Free bets are awarded within 72 hours and expire after 7 days • Free bet stakes are not included in returns • Deposit balance is available for withdraw anytime • Restrictions apply to withdrawals, payment methods and countries and full terms and conditions apply 18+ begambleaware.org