Carlo Ancelotti appeared to feign ignorance when asked about reports that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is set to sign for Real Madrid. 

Thomas Tuchel revealed at the weekend that Rudiger had informed him of his desire to leave Stamford Bridge when his contract expires at the end of the season. 

The Germany international will reportedly finalise a deal to join Madrid this week. 

Asked about Rudiger by beIN SPORTS after Madrid's 4-3 Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday, Ancelotti replied with a smile: "Toni? Who is this? 

"He's a Chelsea player until... He's still a Chelsea player and I cannot say anything about this." 

Ancelotti highlighted Madrid's defending as a key factor in their loss to City. 

Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus found the back of the net inside 11 minutes at the Etihad Stadium – the earliest Madrid have conceded twice in a single Champions League game. 

Karim Benzema pulled one back on his 600th appearance for the club and Vinicius Junior found the back of the net after Phil Foden nodded in a cross from Fernandinho in the second half. 

Bernardo Silva restored City's two-goal cushion before Benzema gave Madrid a sliver of additional hope with an audacious Panenka following a handball in the box by Aymeric Laporte. 

"You cannot cover a position with four defenders, You have to help with a midfielder," said Ancelotti. 

"There were losses in individual duels, so we have to be more attentive. With the ball, we had opportunities. We suffered a bit without it, though. But we have to have confidence. 

"We came out of the first leg with a result that isn't good, because we've conceded four goals and not defended well. 

"We hurt City with the ball, but what we have to do is defend better. The result can change in the second leg. They're a very strong team – they showed it tonight – but we competed. Defending better is the key to reaching the final." 

Madrid will be crowned LaLiga champions if they get a point at Espanyol on Saturday, but Ancelotti has no intention of denying the players a chance to celebrate ahead of Wednesday's return game against City at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

"If we are able to win the league, of course we'll celebrate. And it will help us for Wednesday's game," he added. 

On April 26, 2016, Manchester City and Real Madrid played out a tepid 0-0 draw in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final at the Etihad Stadium. 

Back at the same ground, in the same round of the same competition six years later, they produced a spectacle that had the contrast cranked up to the maximum.

It was the joint-highest scoring semi-final in the competition's history, and it was a story that twisted and turned from the first minute until the last.

But the opening chapter reached its conclusion with City holding a 4-3 advantage after an enthralling 90 minutes.

A start for the history books 

City pressed Madrid high from the off and it was shortly after regaining possession in the final third that Kevin De Bruyne made a phenomenal dart into the box to head home Riyad Mahrez's pinpoint delivery. 

There were just 95 seconds on the clock, making it the quickest goal in Champions League semi-final history. The previous mark was 2 minutes 44 seconds, which was set by Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich against Madrid in May 2018. 

It did not stop there, though. De Bruyne picked out Gabriel Jesus, who, after a somewhat fortuitous first touch, guided a cool finish beyond Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0. 

Madrid had never before conceded twice in the first 11 minutes of a Champions League match and it looked like they could be seriously up against it with Mahrez, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko all going close. 

Benzema brings it back 

It has already been the best season of Karim Benzema's career and he showed just how important he has become to Madrid in his 600th appearance for the club – the most by a non-Spanish player. 

He got in front of Zinchenko to steer home a brilliant volley from the edge of the box in the 33rd minute for his 40th goal of the season. The Frenchman now belongs to an exclusive club of just five players to hit that mark in a single campaign for Los Blancos, joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez. 

No let-up 

Madrid lost their best defender in David Alaba at half-time and the momentum they had built before the break quickly dissipated. 

Los Blancos concede an average of five more shots per game when Alaba does not feature and City had already had four efforts on goal – two of which came when Mahrez hit the post and Foden saw his goal-bound follow-up blocked by Dani Carvajal – before restoring their two-goal cushion through Foden in the 53rd minute. 

Makeshift right-back Fernandinho, who replaced the injured John Stones in the first half, set up Foden with an excellent cross but his defending belied his years of experience just two minutes later. Vinicius Junior got the better of his fellow Brazilian with a clever dummy by the halfway line, and no one could catch him before he tucked the ball into the bottom-right corner. 

It was the first time two players aged 21 or younger had scored in the same Champions League semi-final match.  

Don't look away

The drama was far from over, though. Bernardo Silva capitalised when referee Istvan Kovacs wisely played the advantage following Toni Kroos' challenge on Zinchenko by slamming the ball into the top-left corner in the 74th minute.

City consequently became the first English side to score four against Madrid in the Champions League since Liverpool in March 2009. It would have been five had Mahrez been able to add a finish to his coruscating run.

But Aymeric Laporte inexplicably handling a cross enabled Benzema to score his ninth goal of the knockout stages – a Panenka from the penalty spot moving him one adrift of Ronaldo's record (10) from Madrid's triumphant 2016-17 campaign. The Portugal captain (13) is also the only player to have scored more Champions League semi-final goals than Benzema's seven.

Madrid were unable to stop Pep Guardiola claiming a 12th win in his 20 meetings with them across his entire coaching career, though. The Catalan's record in the semi-final has been met with a lot of questions, but he has never been eliminated after winning a first leg at this stage.

He will hope to get the job done at the Santiago Bernabeu and get a chance at redemption after last season's final defeat to Chelsea.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the fastest goal in Champions League semi-final history to give Manchester City a phenomenal start against Real Madrid. 

Belgium international De Bruyne headed in a brilliant delivery from Riyad Mahrez after just 95 seconds of the first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday. It was also the fastest goal scored in the Champions League this season. 

The City midfielder's effort beat the previous record set by Joshua Kimmich, who scored in the third minute of Bayern Munich's May 2018 meeting with Real Madrid. 

Nine of De Bruyne's 12 Champions League goals (75%) have come in the knockout stages, which is the highest share among players to find the net at least 10 times in the competition. 

Gabriel Jesus scored four times as Manchester City kept the Premier League title race in their own hands by thrashing Watford 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Jesus netted twice within 23 minutes, with Rodri drilling home a stunning third after Hassane Kamara pulled one back for the Hornets midway through an entertaining first half.

The Brazilian celebrated twice more within eight minutes of the restart as relegation-threatened Watford collapsed, Jesus first winning and converting a penalty before sweeping home from Kevin De Bruyne's pass.

All eyes will now turn to Anfield on Sunday, where title challengers Liverpool will attempt to keep pace with Pep Guardiola's men by beating rivals Everton.

Jesus needed just four minutes to give City the lead, turning home Oleksandr Zinchenko's fierce left-wing cross after the Ukrainian latched onto Joao Cancelo's overhit ball.

City almost doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Ben Foster got down well to turn away Cancelo's left-footed shot, but Jesus was soon on hand to grab his second when meeting De Bruyne's excellent right-wing cross with a firm header. 

Watford briefly halved the arrears when Kamara raced through to power a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner, but Rodri restored the two-goal cushion in stunning fashion after 34 minutes, unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard volley into the top-left corner.

Jesus then completed his hat-trick just four minutes into the second half, rolling home a penalty after chasing down a poor clearance and being felled by Foster, and helped himself to a remarkable fourth four minutes later when he converted from De Bruyne's cut-back.

Riyad Mahrez could have added a sixth when sending a wild right-footed volley over late on, as City saw out an incredible 15th consecutive victory over Watford. 

What does it mean? Reigning champions keep title destiny in their hands

City's dominant win meant they established a four-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of Liverpool's Merseyside Derby against Everton on Sunday.

Their bid to retain the title is gathering steam at the perfect moment, with Guardiola's team now unbeaten in seven league games (five wins, two draws).

Jesus show downs Hornets

Having been linked with a move away from the Etihad in recent days, Jesus bettered his Premier League goals tally for the rest of the season (three) in less than an hour against the sorry visitors. 

Jesus also teed up Rodri's thunderous first-half strike, meaning he has contributed more Premier League assists than any other City player this term (eight).

City dominate favourite opponents again

City made history with Saturday's victory, becoming the first English league side in history to win 15 consecutive competitive games against a single opponent.

Meanwhile, Guardiola maintained the best 100 per cent record of his managerial career; he has now won all 11 of his meetings with Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 47-5.

What's next?

Guardiola's men must switch their attention to Europe as they host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. Watford, meanwhile, host fellow strugglers Burnley next Saturday.

Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne lost their race to be fit to start for Manchester City in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

The duo were doubts after suffering knocks in the Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in midweek.

While De Bruyne was named among the City substitutes for the meeting between the Premier League titles at Wembley – the second encounter between the sides in the space of six days – Walker missed out altogether.

Ruben Dias was also included on the City bench after being out since late February due to injury, with a pairing of John Stones and Nathan Ake tasked with stopping Liverpool's forward line of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz.

Zack Steffen replaced Ederson in goal, while there were also starts for Jack Grealish, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

Fernandinho took the captain's armband after replacing Rodri in midfield, just days after revealing he intends to leave City at the end of the season.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was left out of Jurgen Klopp's starting XI, with a midfield of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita.

Salah and Mane returned after being named on the bench in the Champions League against Benfica in midweek, while Ibrahima Konate was again preferred to Joel Matip in defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

Kevin De Bruyne has had stitches in a lower-leg injury, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola revealed on the eve of the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

In-form playmaker De Bruyne and right-back Kyle Walker are doubtful for the Wembley game after both missed training on Friday.

Both De Bruyne and Walker hobbled out of City's 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday. Walker has a twisted ankle.

Guardiola said De Bruyne's injury was not a muscular issue and mentioned the midfielder's calf and foot when asked about the problem.

To lose him or Walker – or even both senior men – for such a major occasion would be a blow to City.

"We will see tomorrow. Apparently, it will be so close after what happened on Wednesday, but we will see," Guardiola said.

City are chasing a treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles that has only been achieved once before, by Manchester United 23 years ago.

Walker's injury was described by Guardiola as "a big twist, but it's getting better".

"We will see in the next hours, the next days. In football these kinds of things happen. We will adapt, adjust and go from here," Guardiola said. "Kevin had stitches after he had contact – it's not a muscular injury."

City, who have been preparing for the Liverpool game at Millwall's training ground in south London, are feeling the strain at this stage of the season.

They have travelled from Madrid to London, rather than preparing in Manchester and then making another long journey, with Guardiola pointing to the demands of broadcasters as the reason his team must play such an important game less than 72 hours since their last huge assignment in Spain.

"We have to adapt," Guardiola added.

He said City could "dream to be in better conditions, but it's not going to happen", given the tight turnaround.

De Bruyne scored in last Sunday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool, who were also in Champions League action on Wednesday, reaching the semi-finals at Benfica's expense.

"We're going to perform well. Like I said to the players, I don't want any excuse," Guardiola said.

"It is what it is and for that we have to go there tomorrow in Wembley Stadium and try to do our game."

Manchester City and Liverpool produced a pulsating top-of-the-table clash on another enthralling day of Premier League action on Sunday.

The top two played out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium to ensure the title race remains delicately poised with seven games remaining, City's one-point lead intact for now.

Elsewhere, Brentford beat London rivals West Ham, while there were wins for Leicester City and Norwich City over Crystal Palace and Burnley respectively.

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from the day's games.

Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool: Guardiola's men miss chance to pull clear of rivals

The hosts started at a breathless pace and went ahead early on thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's 11th Premier League goal of the season. The Belgium international has only once scored more in a single top-flight campaign (13 in 2019-20).

Diogo Jota pulled Liverpool level before Gabriel Jesus restored City's advantage, and both players maintained their records of never losing in a Premier League game when they have scored. Jota is unbeaten in 33 matches (W27 D6) and Jesus in 45 (W42 D3), with only James Milner (54 games) and Darius Vassell (46) scoring in more without losing in Premier League history.

Sadio Mane scored just 46 seconds into the second half to secure a point for the Reds. It was the first time they had scored in the opening minute of the second half in a league game since January 2019 (Mohamed Salah vs Crystal Palace) and the first time City had conceded in the 46th minute in a Premier League game since November 2004 vs Norwich City.

The result means Liverpool are now winless in their last five Premier League matches against City (D3 L2), their joint-longest run without a victory against them along with a five-game run between November 2011 and December 2013.

Brentford 2-0 West Ham: Hammers stung by Bees

This win means Brentford have recorded a league double over West Ham for only the second time, last doing so in 1953-54 when both sides were in the second tier.

Bryan Mbeumo opened the scoring and the forward has now found the net in both Premier League games against West Ham this season. He is only the second Brentford player ever to score both home and away against the Hammers in the same league campaign, after Jack Holliday in 1933-34.

Ivan Toney added a second to take his tally to eight goals from 32 shots in the Premier League in 2022, after netting just four times from 36 attempts prior to the new year. Indeed, only Son Heung-min (nine) has scored more top-flight goals since the turn of the new year than the Brentford striker.

West Ham, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last 11 away Premier League games (W2 D2), which is one more away defeat than they suffered last season.

The Hammers have suffered three consecutive away defeats for the first time since a seven-game run between December 2019 and June 2020.

Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace: Foxes too strong for Vieira's men

Leicester remain unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Palace (W4 D2), having lost four on the bounce against the Eagles in the top-flight before this run.

Ademola Lookman got them on their way with his fifth league goal of the season, equalling his best tally in a domestic campaign for a side in Europe's big five leagues (also five in 2017-18 with RB Leipzig).

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then doubled their advantage with a superb strike after being teed up by James Maddison.

England international Maddison, who has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Leicester player this season (eight goals, five assists), became just the fourth player to register 20-plus goals and 20-plus assists for the Foxes in the Premier League, after Muzzy Izzet, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.

Patrick Vieira's Palace got one back through Wilfried Zaha, who has scored more Premier League goals against Leicester than he has versus any other side in the competition (seven), yet they were unable to find an equaliser.

Norwich City 2-0 Burnley: Canaries boost survival hopes

Norwich injected life into their Premier League survival bid with a comfortable win over fellow strugglers Burnley.

Pierre Lees-Melou opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal for the Canaries in his 26th appearance in the competition, becoming the first French player to score for the club in the English top flight.

Teemu Pukki made sure of the three points with his 20th Premier League goal, moving him ahead of Mark Robins (19) as the club's third top scorer in the competition after Chris Sutton (33) and Grant Holt (23).

The result meant Dean Smith's side have gone unbeaten home and away against a Premier League opponent for just the second time this season (D1 W1).

Burnley, meanwhile, are winless in their last four Premier League games against teams starting the day bottom of the table (D1 L3).

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne for adding goals to his playmaking ability after notching another strike against Liverpool on Sunday.

De Bruyne netted after just five minutes in the crunch Premier League title clash, his sixth goal in as many games, while he found the net in four straight matches in all competitions for the first time for City.

Diogo Jota soon cancelled out that opener, as did Sadio Mane early in the second half after Gabriel Jesus had restored City's lead, leaving Guardiola's side still a point clear of fellow title contenders Liverpool.

The Catalan coach acknowledged that City cannot afford to lose any of their remaining seven league games and heaped praise on De Bruyne, who has 11 goals and three assists in the league this term.

"He has been in this level for many years – when we won the Premier League with 100 points that Kevin was incredible," Guardiola told reporters at his post-match news conference.

"He struggled the first part of this season with injuries a lot, with the national team and he needed time. But now he is strong, he is back and he is creating chances.

"I like it a lot. He is not just a player to make assists – now he scores a lot of goals. I've said to him many times, 'I know you enjoy making a lot of assists, for you and your team-mates, but you have to score goals to reach another stage'.

"Now he is doing that, a lot of goals and chances. The position today he played was so difficult against Liverpool because they are so tight and so narrow; there are no gaps or space.

"But he can run, he finds space, and his vision in the final third is magical."

Guardiola will hope De Bruyne can keep delivering when City head to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday, which they lead 1-0, before an FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool three days later.

It was billed as the title decider of all title deciders, a clash of titans to determine who would go on to win the Premier League, and yet at the end of 90 breathtaking minutes it remains as you were.

Manchester City, for all their attacking intent and brave play, could not find a killer knockout punch against Liverpool and so it will all come down to the final seven games and who can hold their nerve.

The Citizens have the advantage given they retain a one-point lead, but Pep Guardiola will feel his team deserved more, and Jurgen Klopp can still dream of a quadruple after what he described as a "wild" game.

As it turns out, fortune does not always necessarily favour the brave – though credit must also go to Liverpool for themselves contributing to another Premier League classic between these heavyweights.

It became clear an hour before kick-off that Guardiola would be true to his word: City had no intention of playing for a point in the biggest game of a thrilling campaign that had seen the chasers close the gap on the leaders from 14 points to just one heading into this showdown.

With Gabriel Jesus recalled for his first league start since New Year's Day in an attack that also included Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, City were out for blood against a Liverpool side on a 10-game winning run in the competition.

For a manager now famed for over-thinking his team selection, this was a masterstroke from Guardiola. De Bruyne and Jesus were on the scoresheet, the latter ending a run of 37 shots without scoring in the competition, while Sterling had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR.

But the reward at the end of it all was only a point as Liverpool, who went with the line-up many had been expecting, twice hit back to ensure this enthralling title race has another chapter of drama still to come.

Five minutes was all it took for City's attacking approach to pay off. Moments after Sterling was denied by Alisson from close range, De Bruyne's long-range strike – via a telling deflection off Joel Matip – went in off the post to give the reigning champions lift-off.

That was the 10th goal City have scored in the opening 10 minutes of Premier League games this season, each of the last four netted by De Bruyne in the fifth minute – a remarkable quirk. The outcome when City have taken the lead, regardless of the minute, had always been the same: won 22, drawn none, lost none.

The title race was over, on that basis. Except of course it wasn't.

Diogo Jota's leveller eight minutes later, following brilliant interplay between full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, had Liverpool back on level terms in a match that lived up to its pre-match billing. Did you really expect anything else?

If the previous omens had been stacked in City's favour, now Liverpool had something similar to cling to given Jota had not lost in any of the previous 32 Premier League games in which he had scored. Make that 33 on a day when Klopp's own selection calls were justified by the final result.

Jota's record was under threat when City continued to probe with more intent than their rivals and regained the lead through Jesus, who got on the end of Joao Cancelo's pass in behind Alexander-Arnold and finished past Alisson.

Trailing in a Premier League game at half-time for the first time in exactly a year, when coming back to beat Aston Villa, Liverpool needed just 46 seconds of the second half to level through a Sadio Mane goal assisted by Mohamed Salah – the Egypt international's 159th Premier League goal involvement for the Reds, a tally only Steven Gerrard (212) can better.

It was the first time City had conceded in the first minute of the second half in a league game since November 2004 against Norwich City, though once again their response did not take long to arrive, albeit with Sterling's finish against his former club rightly ruled out for offside.

That attacking intent remained clear to see when Riyad Mahrez replaced Sterling, rather than a more cautious option being introduced, and the Algeria international twice went close to winning the game when clipping the post from a free-kick and chipping over both Alisson and the crossbar when through on goal from the final act of the game.

And so for all the to-ing and fro-ing, 2-2, and one point the gap between the sides, is how it remained come a full-time whistle that no neutral was ready to hear. A second meeting between these sides this season, a second four-goal thriller, and still there is next to nothing to separate perhaps the two greatest sides in world football.

It sets up a tense and intriguing final six weeks of the season and, the best of all, we get to do it all over again when the sides face off in an FA Cup semi-final next Saturday.

Unlike on this blockbuster day of Premier League football, there has to be a winner at Wembley.

Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City had the upper hand in their 2-2 draw with Liverpool as he called on his side to produce similar performances with seven Premier League games left to play.

City needed just five minutes to edge ahead when De Bruyne, via a deflection from Joel Matip and the right post, cannoned in his sixth goal in as many games before Diogo Jota equalised.

Gabriel Jesus restored the lead in the first half for Pep Guardiola's side with his fifth goal in all competitions against Liverpool, only scoring more for City against Everton (eight).

That was the first time Liverpool had trailed at half-time in the league all season, but Sadio Mane levelled immediately after the break at the Etihad Stadium to keep the title race alive.

City remain a point clear of Jurgen Klopp's side and, with a return leg in their Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid and an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, De Bruyne urged his team to play as well as they did on Sunday.

"It was hard. I think we played excellent. I know we conceded two goals but the way we played today was very good; we should have scored more but it is what it is and we keep going," the Belgium star told Sky Sports.

"I think we should [have won]. Obviously the way the second half started that is the disappointment but we know in a couple of chances that Liverpool can score.

"We created enough chances to win the game but it didn't happen.

"I think it demonstrated how close it is between the two teams, but we played really well and had the upper hand even if we didn't win – that can happen. This is the way we need to play and approach the other games."

As for whether the clash at the Etihad Stadium would decide the destination of the title, De Bruyne suggested City had not secured the advantage by earning the draw.

"No, I think it is similar. I know a lot of people spoke saying whoever wins the game wins the title, but I don't think either team would think that way – it's way too hard," he responded when asked if the result was decisive.

"The schedule is way too hard for both teams to win all the games, so we're going to try, but I think the way we showed today was the way we need to move forward."

Substitute Riyad Mahrez could have snatched victory in the closing stages but wastefully chipped over, though De Bruyne holds no grudges.

"It's a clear chance, obviously. Riyad chose to chip the goalkeeper and if it goes in it's a wonder goal, but it didn't go in today, so that's it," he said.

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt with a priceless second-half equaliser in a gripping 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's side sat 14 points behind City in January, but a 10-game winning run cut the gap to just one point to set up what many billed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium.

Diogo Jota cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opener in an enthralling start, and Mane followed suit swiftly after the interval following Gabriel Jesus' 36th-minute strike.

Neither side could find a winner, with Raheem Sterling seeing a goal disallowed, as Pep Guardiola's side kept their slender lead intact with seven games left to play.

Sterling squandered a glorious chance after five minutes as he was denied by the onrushing Alisson following a square Jesus pass, but City were ahead just seconds later.

De Bruyne profited from a quick Bernardo Silva free-kick before arrowing a left-footed effort home, the ball going in off the right post following a fortuitous deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool responded within eight minutes, with Andy Robertson finding Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played the ball back from the far post for Jota to squeeze a low strike under Ederson.

De Bruyne whipped narrowly wide in search of his second before Jesus latched onto a Joao Cancelo cross and coolly finished via the underside of the crossbar.

Mane levelled up within a minute of the second half getting under way, racing onto Mohamed Salah's throughball to slot powerfully past Ederson, who thwarted Jota's prodded effort shortly after.

Sterling thought he had nudged the hosts ahead again, but a VAR check showed the forward was offside when De Bruyne passed the ball, while Salah curled just off target at the other end.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez provided a late scare for the visitors as he clipped the post with a free-kick, and then chipped over after a sublime De Bruyne pass, but there would be no decisive goal.

Pep Guardiola spoke of the "massive influence" that Kevin De Bruyne brings to Manchester City after the Belgian's winner on his 50th Champions League appearance for the club.

City snatched a 1-0 lead to take into the second leg of the quarter-final against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, with De Bruyne rifling in from substitute Phil Foden's pass in the 70th minute.

The 30-year-old playmaker was heavily involved throughout, but it had looked like being a frustrating night for him before he finished off the excellent throughball from Foden.

Moments before the goal arrived, as Guardiola made a triple change that saw Foden, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus enter the action, the manager called De Bruyne over to the touchline.

He passed on a word of wisdom or two, and almost in a flash City hit the front in the tie, finally breaching an Atletico defence that had manfully held out against heavy pressure from the hosts in rainy Manchester.

City had 70.5 per cent of possession and Atletico were credited with no shots at the home side's goal. Still, the tie could yet change in Madrid, and City will be thankful talisman De Bruyne, one yellow card short of suspension, was not booked for hacking down Joao Felix in the first half.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone described City as "possibly the best team in the world", but the respect between the superstar coaches is mutual.

"It was a difficult game against a tough opponent," Guardiola said.

He said City were lacking "the right rhythm" at times in the second half, which spurred him to make the changes.

Guardiola said: "It's a good result fortunately. At the end we had one or two more chances with Kevin to score more goals, but even 1-0 or 2-0 to go to Madrid it is always difficult. But good result, we won the game."

Turning his thoughts to De Bruyne, the midfielder who had to hustle as a false nine for a large chunk of the game, Guardiola said: "I think he's in the best moment of the season right now.

"He's sharp, he's quick, he's positive, his influence on our game is massive. He made an exceptional goal in the combination with Phil."

De Bruyne had a game-high five shots, forcing Jan Oblak into a fine save from one free-kick before the goal arrived.

Foden's vision and slick pass to find De Bruyne's run was admirable, almost lifted from the De Bruyne playbook.

"He has a special quality. His first steps are massive," Guardiola told a news conference. "He had the composure to make an incredible assist to Kevin.

"We knew it in the beginning with Gabriel and him, when our game was a little bit flat they could change it when [Atletico] were a bit more tired. With Jack, we could continue to control the game. We did it and they were brilliant."

Guardiola said City needed a presence in attack, with Atletico defending in two lines of five, effectively giving up the idea of scoring themselves.

They had a couple of breaks towards goal, but Ederson was largely a spectator.

"They defend so well, so compact, and so deep," Guardiola said.

"We need the talent like Phil has shown. We were patient because you have to be against these type of teams. They want to be getting you anxious and nervous. You get disorganised a bit and they punish you up front because they have top, top players. They have incredible quality up front.

"They are so good and if you are not attacking in the right way they punish you."

Looking to the second leg next week, Guardiola added: "We will go there not to defend the result, but to try to win the game.

"We have to control our emotions and do what we have to do. They have faced this kind of knockout stages many times... more than us. It will be a good test for us and our maturity in this game."

Rival boss Simeone said he had planned for City to have Foden on the pitch from the first whistle.

The Atletico head coach, who has led his side to two Champions League final defeats, said: "We expected him to play as a starter because he is a very dynamic player.

"He came on in the second half, and any of the three who came on have different characteristics. In the same way that they talked about being patient at half-time, waiting for their moment, we also waited for it. With different weapons, we were both looking for the same thing."

Simeone will now plot for Atletico's home leg, when they will have to show more attacking verve, which could open gaps for City to exploit. City have a tough Premier League assignment to come first when they face title rivals Liverpool on Sunday, and that may help Atletico.

"You always have to come up with something better," Simeone said. "It's a long match, divided into two parts, here and at home. They don't care, they'll play the same way. They're possibly the best team in the world. But with humility we'll compete."

Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City were rewarded for their calmness and patience during the Champions League quarter-final first leg 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

De Bruyne marked his 50th appearance for the Citizens in the competition by striking the only goal at the Etihad Stadium.

The Belgium international latched onto Phil Foden's delicious throughball 20 minutes from time, before neatly slotting past Jan Oblak.

City had endured a frustrating first leg as they struggled to break down their opponents' typically stubborn defence.

But their persistence eventually paid off with Pep Guardiola’s side taking a slender lead to Madrid for the return fixture next week.

"It was a very hard game," De Bruyne told BT Sport. "They play so defensively tight and solid; that's their way of playing. I think we played good under the circumstances. 

"They played almost five at the back and five in midfield, so it's very hard to find the spaces.

"You need to be calm, patient, and try to find the spaces. You're going to lose balls because it's so compact, but we had a couple of chances in the second half and managed to get one.

"I expect similar over there [in the second leg]. If the game is tight, they will have to attack a little more."

Diego Simeone's men arrived in Manchester for the second time in a month - having defeated United at Old Trafford in the previous round - protecting a six-match winning streak, and will fancy their chances of turning things around next Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Guardiola insists that the Premier League leaders do not intend to sit back and rest on their laurels at Wanda Metropolitano.

Asked if he was happy with his side's performance, the head coach told BT Sport: "A lot. 

"We played an incredible top side who are difficult to face, but it is a good result. We had chances to score a second and third.

"It is not easy to face a team with a lot of experience in this tournament. 

"We will go there to score and try and win again."

Great art will typically have its back to the wall, and for an hour on Tuesday it was a great artist who stood with his back to a red wall on a rainy night in Manchester, unhappy with his lot.

A promising exhibition was turning into a soggy mess as Kevin De Bruyne had his visionary brushstrokes stripped of their customary colour, the false nine lacking his usual lustre.

But then the narrative flipped, and a 50th Champions League appearance in City colours for this wonderful Belgian footballer had its masterpiece, a finish any genuine number nine would admire from substitute Phil Foden's delicious pass. One-nil, and that was how it stayed, a fine result from a taxing evening.

City manager Pep Guardiola had joked about the perception that he can "overthink" in big games in the build-up to this tussle, and he fooled those who cooked up the team sheet that reckoned on De Bruyne occupying a wide-right midfield role.

Of course he cropped up there at times, on the left too, and at times in the centre of midfield, but De Bruyne spent just as much time as the further City man forward, chasing lost causes, closing down, doing the donkey work.

This latest landmark appearance for City – coming so soon after his 200th Premier League appearance for the leaders on Saturday – ended in triumph where it could have been frustration, or been worse.

You see, sometimes great artists do silly things, like slicing off an ear or headbutting Marco Materazzi, and when De Bruyne chopped down Joao Felix in the 34th minute to cut short an Atletico counter-attack, it looked like being a costly error.

A yellow card was surely coming, and with De Bruyne already a booking away from suspension, City would have lost him for the second leg of this tie. Referee Istvan Kovacs kept the card in his pocket and an incredulous Diego Simeone, the Atletico head coach, had to be asked to cool it by the man with the whistle. Simeone might be known for his histrionics, but this seemed eminently excusable.

De Bruyne has entered the imperial phase of his City career, with records and landmarks stacking up alongside trophies. But the Champions League is the trophy City and De Bruyne want now, and it is the obdurate brilliance of teams such as Atletico that they must find a way past to reach that goal.

When Guardiola substituted Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez in the 68th minute, bringing on Foden, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus, he called De Bruyne over to the touchline too, passing on a word or two of advice. De Bruyne had seen a free-kick well saved by Jan Oblak, but was otherwise being stifled, and when he was not being stifled he was looking thoroughly fed up in the rain.

Barely two minutes after the Pep talk and the goal arrived, local lad Foden with a pass from the gods and the finish doing it justice.

De Bruyne came into this game having made more assists in the Champions League than any other player from an English club since his City debut in the competition in September 2015. To those 17 assists – only Neymar (25), Kylian Mbappe (20) and Angel Di Maria (18) have had more – De Bruyne has now added 11 goals.

Five of his previous 10 had come from outside the box, but this was a striker's goal, running in behind and lashing into the left corner.

A head injury forced De Bruyne to abandon last season's Champions League final, and City will want to be sure he is present and correct should they get through to the showpiece again.

A tricky second leg awaits them next week at the Wanda Metropolitano, then potentially a semi-final. But De Bruyne's strike was as admirable as City's persistence against an Atletico side who repeatedly got every man back inside their final third at the behest of their strutting boss, and it was the sort of result that had the home fans at the Etihad Stadium dreaming once again.

During the international break, De Bruyne and wife Michele took 24 hours away in Paris, and it will be the French capital that stages the Champions League final in May.

City might be there. De Bruyne's time, City's time, might be coming.

Kevin De Bruyne was the hero as Manchester City overcame Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The Belgium international struck the only goal 20 minutes from time to hand Pep Guardiola's side a narrow advantage heading into the second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano next week.

Atletico had frustrated the Premier League leaders for large periods of the contest on Tuesday with a typically stubborn defensive display.

However, their resistance was finally broken when De Bruyne latched onto Phil Foden's precise throughball, before sliding past Jan Oblak. 

Guardiola had overseen victories in each of City's previous three Champions League matches against Spanish sides.

But despite boasting well over 70 per cent of possession and forcing four corners, the hosts were unable to break down their stubborn opponents before the interval.

City failed to register a single shot on target from six attempts in the first half, with Atletico also making important blocks to deny Joao Cancelo and De Bruyne.

Ilkay Gundogan almost unlocked the Atleti defence, but the skipper was just unable to get Riyad Mahrez's inviting cross under control.

City continued to carry the greater threat after the restart; Oblak getting down well to keep out De Bruyne's free-kick, while Aymeric Laporte headed over from a Mahrez corner.

Guardiola introduced Jack Grealish, Gabriel Jesus and Foden in a bid to find an elusive opening goal.

And the latter made an impact within two minutes of stepping onto the field; producing a perfectly timed pass for De Bruyne, who finished clinically with his right foot from inside the penalty area.

The midfielder then had an effort blocked by former City defender Stefan Savic, but his strike was enough to give City the edge.

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