It was a night to remember in the Vicente Calderón, with recent Champions League history repeating itself as Atlético Madrid ran out 1-0 winners over Bayern Munich.
Yannick Carrasco scored the game’s only goal in emphatic fashion in the first half, and despite a late Griezmann penalty miss, the red and whites held on for all three points.
Like in last year’s semi-final, the red and whites won by the single goal on virtue of hard work, solid defending and belief, much of which came from an incredible atmosphere created by a raucous home crowd.
As expected, the visitors enjoyed most of the possession but came up against an intense and charged up Atlético who put in a performance up there with their best under Diego Simeone.
The Argentine manager sprung a surprise in his press conference yesterday when he announced that Fernando Torres was to start, and his decision came inches from paying off in the first half.
However, after a corner from the left was flicked on, El Niño somehow headed against the post with Manuel Neuer’s goal gaping.
Usually against teams like Bayern you can’t afford to miss chances such as that, and it took something special to break the deadlock as Yannick Carrasco sent the Calderón into delirium ten minutes before half-time.
After picking up the ball from Griezmann deep inside the Bayern half, he opted not to pass to Torres and instead ran towards goal, before unleashing a rasping effort that flew past Neuer and into the net off of the post.
The German side had chances of their own, Franck Ribery poking the ball wide in space inside the box shortly after the goal although their biggest opening was early in the half, when Oblak thwarted Müller from close range.
Again, it was Carlo Ancelotti’s side who started the second half the stronger, but Atleti stuck to their guns and soon got a foothold, creating just as many chances as the visitors and looking dangerous every time they went forward.
Robert Lewandowski came closest to finding an equaliser, but could only head wide when Xabi Alonso picked him out splendidly with a cross from deep.
With less than ten minutes on the clock, Griezmann had the chance to kill the game from the penalty spot, but after Vidal had scytched down Filipe Luís the Frenchman could only find the crossbar with his effort.
He has now missed four out of six penalties for Atleti, and may well have to pass on duties to compatriot Kevin Gameiro for fans’ well-being more than anything else. Still, they belted his name out after the miss regardless.
Thankfully it didn’t prove costly, and the team dug deep to make sure of the clean sheet and a three points that sees us take control of Group D.
In the other match, Rostov and PSV played out a 2-2 draw which leaves them languishing in the distance. Two more wins should see us qualify before going to Munich on the final matchday.
Jan Oblak – 7
Made a crucial early save to deny Müller a clear chance, then did what Jan Oblak does to help the defence see out the match. Cool as a cucumber.
Juanfran – 8
Exceptional on the right hand side. He may be 31 now, but his energy is boundless and he defends just as well as he attacks. Lopetgui – who was in the crowd tonight – must give him a Spain recall.
Diego Godín – 8
Won a countless number of challenges and matched the intensity from the crowd more than anybody else. Whether it’s Bayern in the Champions League or a pre-season friendly, he defends with his life in every match.
Stefan Savic – 7
The perfect foil to Godín in defence. His judgement of the ball and reading of the game is exceptional, and like in April he had Lewandowski in his pocket. Are we saw he’s not Miranda in a mask?
Filipe Luís – 7
Made a few wrong decisions in attacking positions, but as always was there providing the threat and got his reward by winning the penalty when Vidal took him down. Faultless in defence.
Gabi – 8
Every year people say that Gabi will have less impact and need to take more of a back-up role, but he responds with performances like this. Covered every blade of grass, and was a step ahead of Bayern’s intricate midfield trio.
Koke – 9 (Man of the match)
One of his best performances in an Atleti shirt, and in central midfield to boot. Passing was spot on all night, and he worked tirelessly to protect the back four and move the team from defence into attack. Such a complete player.
Saúl Ñíguez – 7
Was a thorn in Bayern’s side with his clever use of the ball, relentless pressing and strength both in and out of possession. Great in games like this, even if some of his work goes unnoticed.
Yannick Carrasco – 8
Was having a fairly slow start to the season, but came to life tonight with a stunning winning goal and explosive all round performance. Carries the ball so well and always makes things happen, great to see him back in form.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Deserved his penalty to go in after all of his running and work he put in all night, but thankfully the miss wasn’t costly. Lots of nice touches, always knew what to do in possession and can claim the assist for Carrasco’s goal.
Fernando Torres – 7
Justified his selection with an all action attacking performance, running the channels and giving Boateng and Martínez a physical battle in the final third. Really should’ve scored in the first half, but we’ll forgive him.
Kevin Gameiro – 6
Ran tirelessly in his short cameo and came back to help the defence. Had one shot but could only find the side-netting. Slowly but surely will be gaining Cholo’s trust.
Nico Gaitán – 6
Looked a little physically overawed at times. On the ball he looks a perfect fit but has work to do still. Looking forward to see him grow.
Thomas Partey – N/A
Do you agree with our ratings? Just how good was the performance tonight?