Pep Guardiola felt a tactical change in the second half made all the difference as Manchester City edged out Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Kevin de Bruyne’s second-half goal gave City victory as they overcame Atletico’s typically fierce resistance at the Etihad Stadium in what became a fairly feisty encounter by the end.
Diego Simeone’s side performed with their trademark defensive discipline, restricting City to very few opportunities until De Bruyne pounced to make the breakthrough with 20 minutes left.
Phil Foden, on as a substitute, produced the moment of magic to unlock Atletico with a perfect pass through the legs of Reinildo for De Bruyne to slot past goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
It was the decisive moment in the tightest of games but City manager Pep Guardiola’s wild celebration illustrated just how much it means to take a lead, even if slender, to Madrid for the second leg on 13 April.
Pep pleased to grab lead in tie
And speaking after the game, when asked if he was happy with his side’s display, Guardiola told BT Sport: “A lot. We played an incredible top side who are difficult to face but it is a good result. We had chances to score a second and third.
“The guys were playing well but with Gabriel [Jesus] coming inside it gives us special energy and with Jack to keep the ball and the manager is so clever.
“When we make a sub it is because we think it can be a bit better. It works sometimes but other times it doesn’t.
“Scanning… Scanning… Eight times he’s scanned!”
Kevin De Bruyne with a perfect example of the importance of checking your shoulders 👀#UCL pic.twitter.com/fvX5UXrQ4K
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 5, 2022
“It is not easy to face a team with a lot of experience in this tournament. We will go there to score and try and win again.”
De Bruyne relieved to give City advantage
City matchwinner De Bruyne admitted it was important that City finally took one of their chances in a tight game.
He told BT Sport: “The first half was tight in the second half we had a couple of chances and it was good that we took one.
“I made the run and Phil [Foden]…