WHAT a remarkable way to celebrate a century for Manchester City.
In their 100th game in the Champions League, they reached the semi-finals for the third time in their history.
But talk about the edgy ’90s before they got there.
In the fevered and chaotic Wanda Metropolitano, Pep Guardiola’s men were put to a severe test as Atletico Madrid finally got their act together in the second half.
City’s defensive wall – now conceding seven goals in eight away games in all competitions – was solid, while John Stones and Aymeric Laporte were superb.
And in the end, Kevin de Bruyne’s first-leg goal was enough.
The win may have come at a cost as KdB and Kyle Walker both limped away in the second half.
But City will be back in Madrid in three weeks to face off against European kings Real – just like they did at that stage six years ago.
And this time they will be the favourites.
Atletico had successfully appealed against UEFA’s decision to partially close their stadium because of the discriminatory behavior of their fans in the first leg.
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This meant that more than 5000 fans who were originally locked out were allowed back in at the last minute.
So the Wanda was a sea of color and noise when the teams showed up.
However, they have not previously won any of their last seven European games at home – and they would have to change that if they were to book a Madrid ‘derby’ against Real Madrid in the Round of 16.
Diego Simeone’s men failed to register a shot on goal or win a corner in their ultra-defensive display at the Etihad eight days earlier.
On their own bed, however, they had a different opinion – although the visitors were confident at the start.
City’s stand-in skipper Ilkay Gundogan circled a long-range shot before John Stones had a golden chance – but he headed over de Bruyne’s corner from six yards out.
Guardiola had spoken about his players keeping a cool head and making sure 11 men stayed in the park for the 90 minutes.
Still, he and several others on his bench were outraged when Felipe guided his arm into the back of Phil Foden’s head.
After a few minutes of treatment and a fair amount of blood, the England youngster was finally allowed to continue with a bandage wrapped around his head.
After a few minutes of treatment, he was allowed to continue with a bandage around his head.
At the break he was pushed over the advertising boards by former City defender Stefan Savic.
It appeared the 21-year-old would be targeted by the home side in much the same way as Jack Grealish was in the first leg.
Felipe was eventually booked for a late and cynical foul on De Bruyne. The Brazilian looked surprised when the yellow card was waved – but it shouldn’t have been.
City started to find some gaps and KdB saw a shot deflected wide after Foden’s try was blocked.
Their best chance of the first half came when Riyad Mahrez opened up the home defense with a superb ball to Kyle Walker.
His cross at the back post was repelled by Foden and Gundogan fired a low shot against the post when he was supposed to have hit it.
At the other end, Ederson saved on the left after a deflected effort by Geoffrey Kondogbia.
It was a significant moment – after 125 minutes of this duel, the Spanish team finally had a shot on target.
Guardiola would have been pleased with his side’s performance in the first half – but was aware they were still just a goal clear overall.
By the break, his side had gone 335 minutes without conceding in that competition – a streak dating back to a dead rubber against RB Leipzig in December.
Foden entered the second half with a dressing more in line with his team’s navy away kit.
But Atletico finally had a real try at City as Joao Felix narrowly missed a steep Renan Lodi cross.
The Portuguese striker then brought on strike partner Antoine Griezmann, whose volley beat Ederson but went just wide.
For the first time in the entire game, City were under serious pressure.
Adding to their troubles, Star De Bruyne appeared to limp when he was replaced by Raheem Sterling midway through the second half.
He had his right calf strapped to the bench within minutes – and that will worry Guardiola.
Atleti’s substitute Rodrigo de Paul had a shot with his first touch but missed the goal – but the home crowd sensed something was on their way.
Another injury blow hit City when Walker stopped trying to clear and had to be replaced by Nathan Ake
For the first time in a long while, Guardiola’s men looked ragged.
Sub Luis Suarez played with Matheus Cunha, whose attempt was superbly blocked by the superb John Stones.
Felipe allowed Foden one more with his hind leg – and received the well-deserved second yellow card.
Savic’s angry reaction set off a huge scuffle, which the German referee had to sort out somehow before finally giving his marching orders to an enraged Felipe.
Substitute Yannick Carrasco forced a flying save from Ederson with a late free-kick, and City just managed to save.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5119847/atletico-madrid-man-city-champions-league/ Pep’s men endure the tough night, reach the semifinals and prepare for the showdown with Real Madrid