Police were forced to intervene after a moody end to Atletico Madrid’s 0-0 draw with Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final second leg turned into a post-match confrontation in the tunnel.
City meet Real Madrid in the semi-finals after holding off a late rally from a much-improved Atletico in the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday to progress 1-0 on aggregate.
Tensions boiled over in the 91st minute when Atletico defender Felipe was sent off for a foul on Phil Foden, sparking a touchline brawl that continued in the tunnel after the final whistle.
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TV footage showed Stefan Savic attempting to confront Jack Grealish, having earlier been pulled by the City player’s hair in hand-to-hand combat following Felipe’s red card. Substitute Sime Vrsaljko had to be restrained by the Atletico coaching staff and Kyle Walker was restrained by goalkeeper Ederson before police officers arrived to restore order.
“The game can make you so angry when you pressure them and create chances and they go under and waste time,” said Atletico captain Koke when asked about the red card and the uproar that followed. “It’s football. We’re often criticized for that, let’s see what people think about it today.”
Atletico players were angered by what they felt was City’s attempts to shorten the clock as they defended a 1-0 lead in the first leg.
“It can happen in such a tense game,” said Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak. “People came off the bench, there are a lot of nerves, it’s normal that there’s pressure and some bad words are said. What happens in a game stays there. It was good for City, it was a bit of a waste of time.”
However, City defender Aymeric Laporte hit back, saying: “Whoever wasted time was his team and got into absurd fights.
“We already know what they are like and they always do the same thing. It’s always ugly to watch these fights, there’s a lot of fuss made about little. I think it was bad for them because they were in their best moment in the game.”
Pep Guardiola refused to answer questions about the waste of time, but City midfielder Rodri admitted there are times when it’s necessary.
“If you’re locked back and there’s five to ten minutes left, we’ll have to play with other weapons,” Rodri said.
“I’m not in favor of doing it throughout the game, but occasionally. What stays on the field stays there. It’s a game with a lot of pressure and I don’t really know what happened to Felipe, but it’s not comfortable .” “
Both Oblak and coach Diego Simeone said they did not see what happened in the tunnel as they stayed on the pitch after the game to thank Atlético fans for their support.
“I didn’t see it. I was with the players and I applauded the fans,” Simeone said in his post-match press conference. “As I walked up the stairs [in the tunnel]Nobody was there.”
Simeone denied he directed ironic applause at City’s bench and his opposite number Guardiola in stoppage time – saying: “I didn’t applaud the opposing bench, I applauded our fans” – but still seemed annoyed by Guardiola’s comments about Atletico’s defence to be tactics after the first leg.
“Often people with a large vocabulary are very intelligent and manage to praise you disrespectfully,” Simeone said. “But those of us who may have smaller vocabularies aren’t so stupid.
“Football has many facets. I’m not going to give my opinion on how the opposition behaved. We’re going to focus on ourselves, play against what might be the best team in the world and realize that we can compete. But that doesn’t matter makes me happy, the only thing that makes me happy is winning.”