Wednesday night's match at the Academy Stadium was the first meeting between Manchester City and Atletico Madrid since the same fixture in the Round of 32 of the Champions League last year, which saw Atleti run out eventual winners 3-1 winners on aggregate.
The draw sparked the return of Lionesses international Toni Duggan back to the team that kick-started her football career and boosted her into the limelight. The Liverpool-born winger tallied up a total of 80 appearances and notched in 37 goals over three seasons in Manchester, which also saw her win the League Cup in 2014 and then the domestic treble across 2016-17. Duggan then departed for Barcelona in the summer of that year, and now finds herself in the Spanish capital of Madrid applying her trade for Atletico, signing for the club in the summer amidst rumours of links to many clubs - including City's rivals Manchester United.
Story of the Match
Atletico started the match on the front foot - only six minutes in, they came close to opening the scoring. A curling free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box swerved around the wall and forced Ellie Roebuck to make a tremendous save. An effort from the rebound was converted onto the bar in an excellent move from the City keeper. Toni Duggan picked up the ball not far out from goal, but she fired over and relieved any danger.
However, Canadian international Janine Beckie soon managed to find a response on the bitterly cold night in Manchester. A torrent of attacks saw her close-range shot saved low by the leg of Sari van Veenendaal, before failure to clear from the Spanish backline saw the City forward curl a shot perfectly into the top corner of the net, with no chance for it to be saved.
City sat deep for the rest of the first 45. Atleti's possession play allowed them to dominate the pitch, often playing long balls to switch the play and keep ball. Elena Linari played a crucial role, linking up the defence with the rest of the team, whilst both wingers often dropped back to quickly quash any chances of Lauren Hemp or Tessa Wullaert breaking through and making it two.
Ludmilla da Silva came close early on in the second half. When the ball was threaded through to her, dissecting the City defence, she quickly pounced and fired off a shot - only to be denied by the goalkeeper of the opposition.
A moment of complacency from the English side found them losing their lead in the 80th minute. After applying pressure for most of the game and being the dominant side, summer signing Charlyn Corral was able to net her first goal for Madrid, firing low past Roebuck to level the scoring before she was substituted off for Reyes.
Winger Da Silva found herself with a clear goalscoring opportunity a handful of minutes before the end of the match. Worming her way up through the pitch, she took on many defenders with her clinical footwork and worked up to into the six-yard box. She beat Steph Houghton on the turn, but the Brazillian was denied by Roebuck.
Takeaways from the match
Despite having a plethora of opportunities across the full ninety minutes, City seemed to struggle to get off shots and convert them to ones which troubled Van Veenendaal. Often, they would work their way up to a good position only to turn back and look for another option, rather than taking needed risks to try and extend the scoreline.
When Ellen White returns to Nick Cushing's side soon, she could make a large impact for the Blues. Even with a strong from three of Beckie, Hemp and Wullaert, they are lacking an obvious goalscoring threat with the ability to take on players and change the game on their own, and the summer signing may be able to do this very soon.
Atletico's build-up strong
Throughout the match, it was evident that Atletico were a strong side with their build-up play, and City often found it difficult to get the ball off the Spaniards - finding themselves sitting deep which ultimately gave chances to the opposition.
If Madrid can capitalise on this in the second leg at home, then it may help them to use these increased chances to convert a currently drawn game into their path through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Tiredness ahead of United tie
A number of Manchester United players were spotted in the crowd at Thursday's match, with Casey Stoney also present. Cushing left his few substitutions until late in the game, which could give their rivals an advantage at the weekend when the two face in the Continental Cup.
Many players have played full nineties in both the Birmingham and Atletico ties, and they may struggle to keep up with a more rested United side who play attacking football.