Atlético secured their qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League this evening, winning 1-0 in Glasgow against a tough Celtic side.
Arda Turan’s spectacular first goal in red and white was enough to ensure victory for Gregorio Manzano’s team, for whom the win was their first away from home in over three months.
Los Colchoneros made a bright start to the game, and should have taken the lead in the first minute through Eduardo Salvio. Arda’s inviting cross was knocked down by Godín, but the Argentine inexplicably missed his header from inside the six yard box.
Celtic quickly found their way into the match, and would have perhaps taken the lead themselves if not for Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian stopper twice denied Samaras from close range. The Greek saw a dangerous cross cleared off of the line soon after by Filipe Luís.
Later on another chance fell to Salvio. The youngster linked up well with Gabi and Arda but was prevented by a strong Joe Ledley block.
However, the away side were not to be denied, and from the resulting corner they did take the lead thanks to Arda Turan. Daniel Majstorović’s clearance fell to the Turk, who promptly rifled in his first goal for the club from fully 25 yards out.
Goalkeeper Frazer Forster managed to get a hand to the strike, but will be disappointed with captain Beram Kayal who looked to duck out the way of the shot.
Salvio was presented yet another opening before the end of the half, but fired high and wide after the ball bounced awkwardly.
Manzano’s team stood firm and managed to resist a number of Hoops attacks, and went into the break with their lead intact.
Nine minutes into the second period, Salvio again came close. This time his chance was not so gilt-edged, with the right-winger firing the ball dangerously across the goal line.
The fans inside Parkhead roared their team on and will feel aggrieved not to have found the net on the hour when Gary Hooper was ruled offside. The half-time substitute looked to be level as he hooked the ball into the net, but the referee’s assistant thought otherwise.
Minutes earlier, Courtois had done well to tip Ki’s curling free-kick over the crossbar.
Midway through the half, Adrián was replaced by the returning Radamel Falcao, and the Colombian’s first contribution should have been to win his team a penalty. His touch was clearly handled inside the box by Majstorović, but again play continued.
Diego then went close to finding a second goal, when his free-kick was pushed onto the crossbar by Forster. The Celtic ‘keeper made another fine save later on to deny the completely-out-of-luck Salvio.
The one sour note of the night for Atlético was an injury sustained by Arda Turan. The match winner had to limp off on 79 minutes after taking a knock.
His replacement Juanfran had an opportunity to secure the game late on, but Forster did well to save from the former Osasuna man.
The Glasgow side pushed until the dying minutes for an equaliser, but the defence stood strong, with Diego Godín particularly impressing after his nightmare in the Bernabéu on Saturday.
Coming off the back of such a demoralising derby defeat, the away win should provide great confidence and a platform to build on. We can now welcome Rennes to the Calderón in December knowing that anything but a defeat will see us top the group.
Line-up: Courtois; Perea, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Mario, Gabi (“90 Assunção), Diego; Salvio, Arda (“79 Juanfran), Adrián (“67 Falcao).
Goals: 0-1 Arda (“30).