Atletico Madrid could face UEFA action as a result of the series of flashpoints that marred their Champions League game against Manchester City on Wednesday night.
The Spanish champions exited the competition after a 0-0 draw in the Wanda Metropolitano saw Man City secure a 1-0 aggregate victory, but clashes on the field and in the tunnel after the game between both sets of players overshadowed proceedings.
Atletico’s players did not hold back in their treatment of their Man City counterparts, and Phil Foden was left requiring treatment on a head injury after a strong challenge from Felipe early in the first half.
- Atletico 0-0 Man City (Agg: 0-1) – Match report
- How the teams lined up | Match Stats
- Pep: Man City ‘in big trouble’ after Atletico | KDB, Walker doubts for Liverpool
- Download the Sky Sports App
The Atletico defender was later given a second yellow card for kicking out at the same player, before his team-mate Stefan Savic – formerly of Man City – sparked a melee when he tried to manhandle Foden as he lay injured.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Savic went on to aim a headbutt at Raheem Sterling and pull the hair of Jack Grealish during the same incident, but both the on-field officials and the VAR opted not to dismiss the Atletico centre-back.
The ugly scenes continued after the final whistle, with footage showing tempers continued to fray as the players headed into the tunnel. Sime Vrsaljko, who was an unused Atletico substitute, was seen throwing a bottle in the direction of Aymeric Laporte, while police reportedly rushed in to calm the scene.
While referee Daniel Siebert only issued one red card on the night, more punishment could follow, with UEFA saying it will wait to receive reports from the referee and match delegate before deciding whether to open disciplinary proceedings.
European football’s governing body could appoint an ethics and disciplinary inspector to fully investigate what happened.
‘Much for UEFA to consider after nasty melee’
Ben Ransom, Sky Sports News reporter in Madrid
“In the build up we were focused a lot on the styles. Guardiola before the game was talking about the aggression he was expecting, but I think he was expecting it to be a little bit less than we saw last night because it did boil over.
“There were a number of flashpoints. The first time we saw it was getting really nasty on the pitch was that melee which erupted after that tackle on Phil Foden, Felipe ultimately sent off. Stefan Savic, the former Man City player, got himself involved. There were shots of him pulling Jack Grealish’s hair, he’s putting his head into another player.
“I can’t remember being at a game where there were that many players involved in such a melee, and it was physical. It was quite nasty and it went on for such a long time.
“Normally it all dies down pretty quickly and often there are a lot more peacemakers – it wasn’t the case last night. I think it did just get to the point where Atletico’s frustration really boiled over.
“It all kicked off again in the tunnel. From my point of view, the players were being shepherded down there and the security were doing their best to keep them from getting things thrown at them by the Atletico Madrid fans.
“And then just as they were disappearing from view, you could see them coming together again, police rushed in to separate them in the tunnel. So a lot for UEFA to mull over.”
Pep: Atletico can play how they want | Simeone: Some praise us with disdain
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Pep Guardiola refused to criticise Atletico’s approach after the game, and instead insisted he was consistently positive about Simeone’s tactics and the former Argentina midfielder could set up his team in whichever way he liked.
Responding to Spanish reporters, the Man City manager said: “It was you who said that Simeone’s cycle was always the same, it was you, three or four months ago. This is what you were saying when they were not winning matches. It was you, don’t put it on me.
“I always said good things about the club and the team. El Cholo [Diego Simeone] can play the way he wants, nothing else.”
Speaking after his side’s exit, Simeone said he felt people had praised the style of Atletico with “disdain”.
“I have no reason to comment about whether somebody says good or bad things,” said Simeone. “Often those who have a wide vocabulary are very smart and they can praise you with disdain.
“But those of us who maybe don’t have as much vocabulary, we are not stupid either.”
Simeone also denied witnessing any of the scenes in the tunnel, saying: “I didn’t see it. I stayed on the pitch applauding the fans and saying hi to everyone on the pitch. So by the time I went upstairs everyone had gone.”
Koke hits out at City ‘time-wasting’ | Stones proud of City team-mates
Atletico captain Koke defended his side’s antics during Man City’s visit and instead hit out at what he saw as time-wasting by Guardiola’s team.
“The match takes you to that madness when you see that you have chances and they drop to the ground and waste time,” said Koke.
“Many times we are criticised for this situation, but today it was them. Let’s see what people think of this. Today it has been seen, we are Atletico de Madrid and I am proud of this team.
“I’m proud of my team-mates for the effort. I have nothing to reproach the team with. I’m proud of everyone and the fans, who have lost, stayed to applaud us after the game. This is Atletico.”
Man City defender John Stones, meanwhile, admitted the mass brawl at the end of the game is “not nice to talk about” but hailed his side’s reaction to Atleti’s actions.
“We know they sometimes try and make things happen like that and I think we dealt with it really well,” said Stones. “It’s not nice to talk about that. I don’t want to dwell on that because over two legs we played incredible against such an experienced team in what they do.
“I’m so proud of the lads of how we controlled our tempers. It’s so easy to get drawn into stuff like that. So happy to be through and a great night.
“We definitely knew it’s not an easy place to come. It’s my first time here and it’s a hostile environment. It was a difficult night all round but how we defended and how we controlled ourselves was incredible.”
Stones also addressed suggestions Foden, who was the victim for both of Felipe’s yellow card offences, was targeted by Atleti’s players.
“[They started] early doors,” said Stones about Atleti’s treatment of Foden. “Phil was such a threat in both games, especially when he came on in the first time, an instant impact.
“Then in this game, he drove us up the pitch and gained us yards. He was outstanding. He’s feeling it after the game now.”
How the papers reacted to Atletico meltdown
On a night where Atletico Madrid went out of the Champions League after an ill-tempered draw, the British media criticised Simeone’s squad for their actions.
Daily Mirror sports writer Mike Walters tweeted on Wednesday night: “Imagine supporting a team managed by Simeone, including Felipe and Savic, and actually wanting them to win. What a bunch of animals.”
Meanwhile, Daily Mail football writer Jack Gaughan, who was at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, described Atleti’s actions as “genuinely disgraceful” while Martin Samuel from the same paper branded the Spanish side as “sore losers”.
TalkSPORT host Adrian Durham added on Twitter: “Simeone’s Atleti are absolutely lawless. Delighted they’re out,” while writer Paul Hayward added: “All that bluster and snarl and Atletico couldn’t score in either leg. Savic and Felipe: horrible.”
However, there was a drastically different reaction to Atletico’s performance in the Spanish newspapers on Thursday morning, where Simeone’s side were praised for their display.
Marca went with the headline “heart without the prize”, adding “Atletico tried until the end against a City side that did not play for anything”, while AS wrote “a great Atletico were one step away from forcing extra time against a shrunken City”.
In their player ratings from the game, Marca also stated “the world needs a leader like Savic”.