Manchester City had to settle for a draw in the first leg of their Women’s Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid as a late goal cancelled out Janine Beckie’s early opener.
Canada’s Beckie had pounced on Keira Walsh’s through ball to put City ahead, six minutes after Atletico’s Elena Linari hit the crossbar.
City seemed to be in control until Charlyn Corral’s 80th-minute equaliser rocked the boat.
The second leg will be played in Madrid on Wednesday, 30 October after City travel to rivals Manchester United and Arsenal in the Continental Cup and Women’s Super League respectively.
Atletico should have taken the lead after six minutes when England forward Toni Duggan, returning to her former club, could only blast over the bar from five yards out.
Beckie showed composure moments later, after Duggan failed to take her chance in front of the home fans, who had chanted her name before kick-off.
Atletico then dominated most of the possession before the break but City were a threat on the counter-attack, with Lauren Hemp getting into good positions on the left.
It was Hemp who created the opening chance of the game – lifting it into Tessa Wullaert, who headed over the bar after four minutes.
But Gemma Bonner was beaten for pace by Ludmila Da Silva and could only bring her down on the edge of the box in the sixth minute.
Linari took advantage of the resulting free-kick – forcing a save out of City keeper Ellie Roebuck, before her rebound effort was tipped onto the bar.
City had plenty of chances to double their lead with Jill Scott and Hemp causing a nuisance in the box, particularly in the second half.
However, Roebuck had to be alert when Da Silva used her pace to break away again down the right and it was the Brazilian who created the equaliser, beating Demi Stokes on the byline before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Corral to slot home.
It silenced the majority of the 1,219 fans in attendance – a relatively low crowd for such an anticipated tie.
The result leaves the tie in the balance as City face a tough trip to Madrid against the team that knocked them out in the last 32 of the competition 13 months ago.
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing: “It was a good performance. We dominated periods. We created chances – though not many clear chances.
“We probably proved to ourselves we didn’t play well enough last year but we can still do better. They were probably a little bit unknown to us last year. I didn’t think I picked the right team last year but I wasn’t going to do that again tonight.
“We are capable of winning the second game. The away goal means zero because we had it last year and got beat. The away goals only really matter if you score again in the second leg.
“I think we can be better at stopping the counter-attacks. We have two tough games but we want to welcome Georgia Stanway and Ellen White back and we’re excited for Manchester United now.”
Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott: “It was tough but we put a shift in. I do think there is another gear from us to come.
“We are very organised and stop a lot of counters. They have a threat up front in the pace. We know at this level, if you switch off for one moment you can be punished.
“We’re not fearful of going over there and getting a result. I never think we won’t get a goal so we are just looking forward to that game now.”
Atletico Madrid manager Pablo Lopez Salgado: “I tried to give small ideas of how I want my team to play. I have an extraordinary group with players who want to learn. They make it very easy for me.
“We controlled the game. It was a good result for us but we could have won. But obviously I am very happy overall.”
Atletico Madrid forward Duggan: “It was tough. We lost our coach which is always difficult. I am so proud of the team – it means so much to us.
“The performance we put in, with the injuries we have got, the week we have had, it was a positive performance from us all.
“The morale has been amazing. It was difficult for everyone when he [former coach Jose Luis Sanchez Vera] left the club. The togetherness in the group is unbelievable.
“We haven’t seen the best from Atletico but we are near the top of the table and competing in the Champions League.”