Thursday 23, March 2023

'It is a hostile environment'

Manchester City defender John Stones praised his team's "incredible" composure in a fiery goalless draw away to Atletico Madrid as Pep Guardiola's side set up a blockbuster Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal of the tie in the first leg in Manchester and City held on despite a bad-tempered finish to the return leg in the Spanish capital.

Atletico centre-back Felipe was sent off late on for a wild swipe at Phil Foden, an incident that triggered a mass brawl in the corner of the pitch and resulted in more than 12 minutes of stoppage time being played. Video then showed clashes continuing in the tunnel with police called to help separate the two squads.

"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," Stones told BT Sport.

"We know that they sometimes try and make things happen like that and we dealt with it really well," Stones told BT Sport.

"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." He added: "We kept our tempers and it is easy to get drawn into stuff like that."

Guardiola opted not to get involved in a war of words with his Spanish opponents. When asked if he thought Atletico had gone too far, and targeted Foden in particular, he said: "Nothing to say.

"I don't know I cannot talk about what other people do, I don't know." Guardiola said City would have to raise their game as the club go in search of a first European title.

"It is the champion of Spain and they played with energy and in second half were better than us and we were lucky we didn't concede," he said.

"In the first half we had chances, overall we are in the semi-finals - it is well deserved."

City also lost De Bruyne and Kyle Walker to injury in the second half, three days before their FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.

"We are in big trouble, so we can't forget we played three days ago, travelled, come here, have a lot of injuries now and I don't know what will happen in the next weeks," said Guardiola.

"But today we celebrate because it is the third time in Manchester City's history we are in the Champions League semi-finals."


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