Pep Guardiola praised Manchester City’s patience after Kevin De Bruyne broke Atletico Madrid’s stubborn resistence to clinch a 1-0 win in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Guardiola’s side spent much of the night banging their heads against the red and white wall of Atletico’s massed defence at the Etihad Stadium.
But Guardiola sent on Phil Foden midway through the second half and his sublime pass teed up De Bruyne to finally reward City for their territorial dominance.
“I didn’t expect to win three or four nil. I knew who we were facing. They have been together for many years,” Guardiola said.
“They defend so well, so compact and so deep. We were patient. You have to be against these teams. They want you to be anxious.
“It’s a good result. Unfortunately we had a couple more chances with Kevin to score again.”
While Guardiola launched a water bottle in a frenzied celebration that underlined what a testing night it had been for his team, the City boss knows the tie is far from over.
“Even a 1-0 lead going to Madrid is tough,” Guardiola said.
“We have to control our emotions. It will be a good test for us, our maturity. We will try to score and win the game.”
At the start of a season-defining 11 days for treble-chasing City, this was a qualified success that justified their patient performance.
But Atletico have already knocked out Manchester United in the last 16 this season, while Liverpool fell victim to Diego Simeone’s side when the Reds were the holders in 2019-20.
The Spanish champions will believe they can cause another surprise in the second leg in Madrid on April 13.
“[We] were playing against an extraordinary opponent. We have to use a great way of defending and without being embarrassed,” Simeone said.