‘It is a hostile environment… how we defended and controlled ourselves over the two legs was incredible’: John Stones hails Man City team-mates after they battled past Atletico Madrid to reach Champions League semi-finals
- Manchester City advance to the semi-finals where they will face Real Madrid
- Atletico Madrid players grew frustrated and the game was characterised by a series of unsavoury scenes
- John Stones credits his teammates with coming through the tough test in Spain
Manchester City emerged from a cauldron in Madrid to book their place in the Champions League semi-finals and a date with Chelsea-conquerers Real Madrid.
City led 1-0 from the first leg and faced a barrage of Atletico Madrid pressure in the second half before Diego Simeone’s side lost the plot and multiple scuffles ensued.
The game spilled over after a series of feisty Atletico challenges, not least one from Felipe on Phil Foden that resulted in him being shown a second yellow card.
Stefan Savic appeared to head-butt Raheem Sterling but was not sent off as a result
Footage also appeared to show Stefan Savic, who appeared to take particular umbrage over the two legs with Jack Grealish, head-butting Raheem Sterling.
Speaking after the hostile encounter, John Stones, man of the match for the evening, praised his teammates for emerging from such a tough encounter.
He told BT Sport: ‘We know that they sometimes try and make things happen like that and we dealt with it really well.
‘It is not nice to talk about and I don’t want to dwell on it because over the two legs we played incredible against such an experienced side in what they do. We kept our tempers and it is easy to get drawn into stuff like that.’
‘We knew it was not an easy place to come, it is a hostile environment, it was a difficult night all round and how we defended and controlled ourselves over the two legs was incredible,’ he added.
Foden, who received two heavy blows from Atletico centre back Felipe, appeared to frustrate the Spanish champions and was targeted throughout as a result.
Stones said of his City and England teammate: ‘Phil (Foden) was such a threat in both games, instant impact in the first and how he drove us up the pitch tonight, gained yards and free-kicks – I think he is feeling it now.’
Manchester City’s players celebrated wildly at the final whistle after emerging victorious
Stefan Savic, a former Manchester City player, appeared to lose his head at the end
Having gained a foothold in the tie for the first time across the two legs, Atletico were beginning to threaten the up-to-that-point untroubled Ederson.
However, that pressure was alleviated on City when Felipe flew into a challenge on Foden – who he had clattered in the first half – before kicking out at him.
Savic then stormed over to Foden and dragged him back off the pitch after the City player had rolled back on so the game couldn’t continue.
The result was a mass melee that involved both players and staff with the Atleti players growing more and more angry with the English champions.
The TV cameras appeared to catch Savic pulling the hair of Grealish after the Englishman had some choice words for the Montenegrin.
The 0-0 result means City advance to the semi-finals for the second time in as many seasons where they will face Real Madrid, who beat them at that stage in 2016.
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