inside the Atletico Madrid tunnel mayhem

Jack Grealish had his hair pulled twice by Stefan Savic during expletive strewn exchanges with the Atletico Madrid defender as it emerged there had been concerns for the Manchester City midfielder’s safety going into the explosive Champions League quarter-final clash. Grealish then mocked Savic on Instagram on Thursday by posting a haircut emoji alongside images of the former City defender and his Atletico team-mate, Sime Vrsaljko, pulling the England international’s hair.

Uefa is set to launch an investigation into the wild scenes that overshadowed the end of the fiery 0-0 draw that secured City’s passage through to the Champions League semi-finals and finished with a chaotic bust-up in the tunnel at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Grealish’s bitter feud with Savic has resulted in some City team-mates jokingly nicknaming the Brummie midfielder as “Peaky Jack”, a reference to Peaky Blinders, the hit TV show about the infamous Birmingham street gang.

But it is understood there had been fears going into the game that Grealish – an unused substitute in the end – could be at risk of injury given the way Atletico had aggressively targeted him in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium the previous week.

Savic pulled Grealish’s hair in Madrid after being called a “c—” by the City player during a huge melee at the end of the game, during which Raheem Sterling appeared to be headbutted by the Atletico defender.

It is believed Savic then pulled Grealish’s hair again as another row broke out between the pair in the tunnel that led to further angry clashes and Vrsaljko appearing to spit in the direction of Kyle Walker.

Uefa are expected to assign an ethics and disciplinary officer to the case as they await a full report from referee Daniel Siebert and match delegate Gijs De Jong.

City are awaiting news on the severity of an injury to Walker, who was photographed wearing a protective boot on his left foot on Thursday. Kevin De Bruyne was also substituted through injury and could now miss Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.

The seeds for the extraordinary flashpoints at the Wanda Metropolitano had been sown at the Etihad Stadium the previous week when Grealish and Savic first clashed and the Atletico defender had ominously warned the Brummie midfielder: “I’ll have you in Madrid”.

And that bitter feud provided the acrimonious backdrop against which all hell broke loose in the Spanish capital.

Atletico targeted Grealish so aggressively in the first leg, when he was fouled five times in 22 minutes after coming on as a substitute, had a ball booted at him by Angel Correa as he lay on the ground and his hair pulled in what would become a bizarre recurring theme, that there were some genuine fears for his safety in Madrid given the hostility towards him.

In the end, Grealish did not get on the pitch, and it was his team-mate and friend Phil Foden who instead bore the brunt of Atletico’s brutal approach. Foden had been left with a bloodied head that required bandaging after a borderline assault by Felipe in the 13th minute and later become embroiled in a running feud with Savic when the defender had knocked him flying after the ball had gone in another instance of Atletico’s calculating tactics .

But it was the sight of Felipe deliberately kicking out at Foden after a crunching challenge on the City forward in the 89th minute that would earn him a second yellow card and spark the mass brawl that saw Sterling being headbutted by Savic, Grealish and Savic going at it again and the ugly scenes down the tunnel that culminated in Vrsaljko appearing to spit in the direction of a seenthing Walker.

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