Manchester City’s progression to the Champions League semi-finals was marred by disgraceful scenes and police storming Atletico Madrid’s tunnel.
Wednesday night’s second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano descended into anarchy as former City defender Stefan Savic followed Jack Grealish inside the tunnel and attacked the substitute after the full-time whistle.
Pep Guardiola was showered by bottles raining from the stands as he ran down the tunnel after City’s goalless draw secured a semi-final date with Real Madrid.
Atletico central defender Felipe saw red after a tackle which sparked a melee in one corner of the pitch. Felipe’s hack on Phil Foden left him in a heap, with Savic’s aggression towards the City forward contributing to tempers spilling over.
Savic and Grealish had exchanged words during that brawl – the former pulling the England international’s hair – but the hostility escalated in the tunnel. Four local policemen, dressed in riot gear, rushed down towards the dressing rooms on a shameful night for the Spanish champions.
Marcos Llorente was seen throwing an object in the direction of Aymeric Laporte in the tunnel area, while there appeared to be a physical altercation later in a clip circulating online, and there were reports objects were thrown at members of the opposite camps.
Stefan Savic (second right) instigated disgraceful scenes at the end of Atletico Madrid’s Champions League match against Manchester City, head-butting Raheem Sterling (centre)
The Montenegrin defender somehow escaped a red card for his actions against Sterling, before he pulled the hair of City player Jack Grealish as the two sides were involved in a fracas
There was mayhem in the tunnel afterwards, with both sets of players having to be separated
Savic (right of centre) and Grealish (left) had to be forcefully separated as hostility continued
¿¿ Les images des échauffourées entre l’Atlético et City après le coup de sifflet final dans le couloir du Wanda Metropolitano. pic.twitter.com/krp7EKCdl1
— RMC Sport (@RMCsport) April 13, 2022
‘I have nothing to say,’ Guardiola said. ‘Don’t talk about referees. Or the opponents. Everyone saw the actions, that’s all. I’ve nothing to say. We take dinner and then we prepare for the FA Cup semi-final.
‘It’s always difficult with these people in this stadium. It’s a big compliment for the players. We gave everything. We have to live these kind of situations. We can’t expect that we’re going to make everything marvellous against the champions of Spain. The opponent was really, really good.’
City had control of proceedings in the first half but struggled to contend with Atletico after the break. But they held out, keeping a fourth consecutive clean sheet in the competition during a chaotic conclusion to the tempestuous quarter-final.
‘They pushed us a lot. They were excellent in the second half. We forgot to play. Our legs weren’t fresh enough. We were in big, big trouble.
‘We defended with everything. Fernandinho was excellent, he gave us an incredible boost in that moment. We have to adapt when we couldn’t have the ball, the build-up was without intention. It’s the third time in our history. We felt the pressure a little bit. It’s an incredible achievement.
‘We tried to attack but we couldn’t. I wouldn’t have the nerve to criticise this institution.’ City’s players were wound up by Atletico’s antics, while Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker both came off injured. Joao Cancelo’s yellow card means he misses the first leg of the semi-final.
The dust-up began when Savic forcefully tried to hoist Phil Foden (bottom) off the floor
City players then angrily confronted Savic, who responded with violence and aggression
‘We know that they sometimes try and make things happen like that and we dealt with it really well,’ John Stones said.
‘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.’
Guardiola added: ‘John was brilliant. Aymeric as well. Everyone. There are a lot of games in our legs. The travel was demanding and we dropped in the second half. We were resilient.
‘In the end we were lucky enough to go through. We deserved to go through.’ Stones reserved praise for Foden, who had been bandaged up after Felipe clattered into his head during the first half.
The central defender added: ‘Phil 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.’
Atletico felt they had done enough to qualify for the last four. ‘I’m proud of each and every one of my teammates,’ Koke said. ‘When you give it all on the pitch there is nothing to regret. It’s a shame. We’re a little bit disappointed.’
The Atletico captain added: ‘UEFA decide the referees. It’s very difficult to referee games like this.’
The Sun also reported Atletico defender Sime Vrsaljko allegedly threw an object at the group of City players and staff and then threw his head forward in a spitting motion.