Liverpool and Manchester City stay on UEFA Champions League collision course

Manchester City survived a bruising encounter with Atletico Madrid to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a hard-fought goalless draw in the Spanish capital.

Pep Guardiola’s side battled an intimidating atmosphere and a fired-up home side at the Wanda Metropolitano to edge a tense quarter-final courtesy of last week’s equally-draining 1-0 first-leg win.

Atletico finished with 10 men as Felipe – who escaped a booking for a terrible challenge on Phil Foden in the first half – was sent off as home frustrations boiled over in the closing stages.

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City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan went close to scoring when he hit the post in the first half but the visitors had to dig deep late on.

Atletico Madrid's Stefan Savic head butts Manchester City's Raheem Sterling during the UEFA Champions League quarter final (Picture: Nick Potts/PA)

Atletico upped the tempo in the closing stages and there were some moments of alarm, not least when Antoine Griezmann shot narrowly wide and Angel Correa tested Ederson in stoppage time.

City withstood great provocation to hold out and book a return to the same city to face Real Madrid in the last four.

A number of players took knocks for their troubles, with Foden needing to be bandaged around the head and Kevin De Bruyne limping off.

When asked about Atletico’s tactics and behaviour in the closing stages, John Stones said: “We know sometimes they try and make things happen like that. I thought we dealt with it really well. It’s not nice to talk about and we don’t want to dwell on that.

Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko (left) tries to stop Atletico Madrid's Stefan Savic from dragging Phil Foden off the pitch during the UEFA Champions League quarter final (Picture: Nick Potts/PA)

“Over the two legs I think we played incredibly against such an experienced team in what they do with such a low block. I’m so proud of the lads today and how we kept control, kept our tempers, it’s so easy to get drawn into stuff like that so we’re happy to be through and it’s a great night.

“We know it’s not an easy place to come, it’s my first time, but it’s a hostile environment from talking to the boys who have played here before. We know some of their players and how they play. It was a difficult night.”

Liverpool eased into a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal as even a sloppy 3-3 draw with Benfica saw them progress 6-4 on aggregate.

On the last two occasions the two teams had met in the last eight of this competition the Reds went on to lift the trophy (1978 and 1984) and there has been little to suggest they cannot make it three this season.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Benfica. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Jurgen Klopp’s side have won eight of their 10 matches, scoring 25 goals – drawing a blank in their only defeat to Inter Milan – and conceding just 11.

Holding a 3-1 advantage from the first leg afforded them a considerable cushion and like in the Estadio da Luz last week centre-back Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring with a header.

Roberto Firmino scored twice, his first Champions League goals at Anfield since March 2020, after Goncalo Ramos had equalised in the first half.

A ragged finish saw the visitors’ Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez score late to dampen the party atmosphere and provide a warning – albeit it to a second-choice defence – that they cannot afford to take lightly the threat of Villarreal, considered the easier draw, who dispatched Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals.

But ultimately Klopp’s seven changes to the side which drew with Manchester City on Sunday did not prove to be the slight gamble it may have looked on paper as Liverpool equalled Manchester United’s English record of reaching a 12th European Cup semi-final.

Jordan Henderson said: “It was pretty comfortable but we will be really disappointed at the goals we conceded so plenty of stuff we can be better at.”