Atlético Madrid made it 3 from 3 on Wednesday night, winning 1-0 away in Rostov to consolidate top spot in Group D of the Champions League and move within just a point of qualification.
It was a professional performance from the rojiblancos, who dominated possession and won the match in the second half when the in-form Yannick Carrasco fired home from close range.
Having beaten Bayern Munich and PSV by the same scoreline in their previous matches, three points would’ve really put Atlético in the driving seat and having got the win, they now look to be favourites to win the group.
Diego Simeone showed just how seriously he was taking the match by naming a strong line-up, with Fernando Torres for Kevin Gameiro the only change from the team that beat Granada 7-1 on Saturday.
Rostov were on a run of 26 matches unbeaten at home – stretching back to the 2014/15 season – but were undone by a confident performance from Atleti, who dominated from the off.
It took less than two minutes for the first chance to come about, but Ángel Correa couldn’t find the target with a rebound when Carrasco’s free-kick was parried to him just outside the six yard box.
Although perhaps forgivable, he then missed an even more gilt-edged chance shortly after when Filipe found him with a ball across at the back post. The goal was gaping, but somehow Correa fired over.
Carrasco also had chances, and saw his final shot saved after linking up well with Torres and Griezmann.
The Belgian was not to be denied though, and in the second half he struck what turned out to be the decisive goal for Atleti to claim his fourth goal of the week and second in the Champions League this season.
Juanfran crossed looking for Torres, and although he couldn’t turn it in, Carrasco was there at the back post to fire home and put Cholo’s men into a well-deserved lead at the Olimp-2 stadium.
Given the conditions, Atleti had played well and created more than enough chances to win the match, controlling the match and limiting Rostov to next to nothing in terms of chances.
The home crowd rallied, but to no avail as their team pushed forward in search of an equaliser. This allowed space for the visitors at the other end, but Torres and Griezmann couldn’t take advantage when chances came their way.
Having gotten the goal, Atleti were happy to sit on their lead and having not really been troubled by the hosts, did a good job of seeing out the result and claiming their third consecutive 1-0 win of the group stage.
We remain in first place, three points ahead of Bayern who were 4-1 winners over PSV this evening.
The Dutch side visit the Calderón in matchday five, but the rojiblancos can qualify before then with just a point against Rostov in two week’s time.
Jan Oblak – 7
Whilst he was untested for much of the evening, he showed the mark of a great goalkeeper in the closing stages with a couple of timely interventions to deny Rostov a route back into the match.
Juanfran – 7
Had an excellent match at right-back, particularly in the second half when he put in a number of good crosses. Also had a hand in the goal when his ball found it’s way to Carrasco. Great to see him on top form.
Diego Godín – 7
Completely professional, playing a part in our build up play on the ball and leading the defence without it. When we go 1-0 up, it’s up to Godín and the defence to see the result out and he did just that.
Stefan Savic – 7
Impressive as always. The perfect complement to Godín, tidying up at the back and covering for his Uruguayan partner when needed. Reads the game so well and made sure Rostov’s attackers had limited space to work with.
Filipe Luís – 7
Had a great first half, getting forward well, linking with Koke and Carrasco and creating chances, one of which should’ve been put away by Correa. His intelligence on the ball helped us keep possession when seeing out the win.
Gabi – 8
The lynchpin behind every attack and the screen in front of the defence. Every Rostov break forward seemed to be put to a stop by Gabi, who kept a cool head and dominated the midfield from a deep position.
Koke – 7
Precise with his passing, playing the ball quickly and authoritatively. Now he’s in midfield, we have more dynamism from deep and more penetration in attack, as Carrasco and Correa can fill his former wide role.
Yannick Carrasco – 8 (Man of the match)
In some form at the moment. Scored the winning goal with another confident finish, and was a constant menace all night with his skill and confidence on the ball. Is he now an undisputed starter for Cholo’s men?
Ángel Correa – 6
Should’ve done better with the two early chances that came his way, but other than that he was neat and tidy before being taken off early in the second half. Had some nice touches and played as part of the team.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Drifted in and out of the game, but when he was involved it was telling, and he showed his quality on a number of occasions with clever passes and movement. Influential even when he doesn’t score.
Fernando Torres – 6
Wasn’t his night in front of goal, but he did what Cholo would’ve wanted from him. Chased, harried and pulled the Rostov defenders out wide, creating space for Carrasco, Griezmann and Correa to make use of.
Kevin Gameiro – 7
Showed just what a job he can do for the team when he came on, running the channels and working hard in defence from what at times was a wide role. Had a few nice touches in the final third but didn’t see any chances come his way.
Saúl Ñíguez – N/A
Tiago – N/A
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?