Manchester City and Liverpool Tuesday night recorded victories in their respective UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg ties against Atletico Madrid and Benfica.
While Kevin de Bruyne’s solitary strike earned the Cityzens a lone goal victory over Atletico at the Etihad, Liverpool were more ruthless with their 3-1 away win over Benfica in Portugal.
As widely anticipated, the City and Atletico Madrid tie at the Etihad was a cagey one with chances few and far apart.
The Spanish club came into Tuesday’s tie unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions.
Having knocked out Manchester United in the last round, Diego Simeone’s men were in high spirits returning to England on Tuesday night against Pep Guardiola’s side challenging for honours on three fronts.
Though it was a tight affair, City dominated the ball but found it very difficult to break through a typically dogged display from Simeone’s side.
With 20 minutes remaining though, De Bruyne found his way as he finished cooly past Jan Oblak to give City a narrow lead to take to Madrid next Wednesday.
Before the breakthrough finally came, De Bruyne had a free-kick saved and then kicked clear by Oblak at the second attempt, before Aymeric Laporte headed just over the bar from a corner.
Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Gabriel Jesus proved to be worthy additions as they were introduced midway through the second half, and within two minutes, City had taken the lead.
It was Foden who provided the assist, with his first involvement off the bench, as he played a perfect pass through to De Bruyne who slid the shot under Oblak and into the far corner.
There is definitely still a lot to play for in the second leg as Atletico will be looking to turn the game on its head especially with the away goals rule now off the window.
In the day’s other quarter-final tie, a goal each from Ibrahim Konate, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz put the Reds in pole position to beat Benfica to a place in the semi-final.
The Reds dominated the first half and led 2-0 thanks to goals from Konate and Mane. Benfica gave a good fight and pulled one back through Darwin Nunez.
However, Luis Diaz restored the two-goal cushion three minutes from time as Jurgen Klopp’s side took a huge step towards the semi-finals.
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