By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City took a slight lead in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday after a 25th-minute goal from Kevin De Bruyne gave England a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the Etihad Stadium.
It was a result City had to look for against an Atletico team that clearly traveled to England with the aim of simply avoiding opportunities from Pep Guardiola’s side and that failed to produce a single shot on target.
Diego Simeone’s team frustrated City throughout the first half with their deep defense and relying only on the occasional counter-attack to threaten the hosts.
City rotated the ball with their usual skill and made it difficult for Atletico to break out of their defensive formation.
The goal came in a play initiated by Phil Foden, who entered with Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus during the match. He drew three markers in his direction and landed a perfect pass to De Bruyne, who outplayed goalkeeper Jan Oblak with a characteristic shot.
The return leg will be held at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid next Wednesday, but before that City have a crucial clash at home with rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
De Bruyne said it was difficult to break through the defense of a team that plays with so many behind the ball.
“Is very difficult. They played with almost five in defense and five in midfield. I recommend anyone who says anything… to try and play like that on the training ground.”
“I expect something similar over there. If the game is tight, they will have to attack a little more,” added the Belgian.
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