Champions League: Benfica 1 – 2 Atlético
Atleti top their group after claiming victory in Portugal
Atlético Madrid will go into next Monday’s Champions League draw as a top-seed after clinching their group with a 2-1 victory over Benfica in Lisbon.
Goals from Saúl Ñiguez and Luciano Vietto handed Diego Simeone’s men a win, in retribution for the defeat they faced at the hands of Benfica back in September.
Some neat play from Benfica began the game. Gaitán involved but Atleti snuffed out the chance early on.
There was an early scare for the striker who took centre stage at the Vicente Calderón. A knock to the knee worried the home crowd, but he was able to return to the crowd’s relief.
Atleti were not having it as they would have liked, with Benfica dominating possession in the opening ten minutes.
The away team had the ball in the back of the net in the eighteenth minute. A cross in to the box was guided home by an unmarked Diego Godín, but the defender was flagged for offside.
Saúl followed that up with a crack from distance, but well saved by Julio Cesar. Gabi tested the Brazilian again but batted away for another Atleti corner.
Atleti were starting to come more into the game after a quiet opening fifteen minutes.
Gaitán still posed the biggest threat to Jan Oblak’s goal. The striker would have had a clear chance had it not been for an inch-perfect Savic tackle.
Saúl was denied early on by Julio Cesar, but there was very little the goalkeeper could do about the opening goal for Atlético.
A well timed through ball from Griezmann found Vietto racing towards goal, before the youngster cut it back to Saúl who just had to guide the ball into the bottom corner. 1-0 to the visitors.
Benfica had a chance to level the score but some fantastic defending from Godín and Savic meant that Atleti went in at half-time a goal up.
The hosts brought on Mitroglou at half-time, and the striker almost made it 1-1 just 26 seconds into the second half. After cutting back to deceive the Atleti defence, the striker curled a shot just wide of Oblak’s post.
Just ten minutes into the second half, Atlético had their second. He had an assist in the first half, but now it was Luciano Vietto’s turn to find the back of the net.
After a perfect one-two, Carrasco chased the through ball down and found himself with enough time to stop and fire in a low cross. Vietto got the slightest of touches on it to leave the Benfica goalkeeper with no chance.
The youngster was brought off and replaced by Fernando Torres as the game passed the hour mark. El Niño still in search of his 100th career goal for Atlético.
Benfica made things interesting with 15 minutes to go. Mitroglou pulled a goal back after a Raúl Jiménez assist and this set the tone for the remainder of the game.
A sharp turn in the box gave the substitute enough room to steer the shot in off of the inside of the post.
Renato Sanches took the game by storm as the clock wound down. His pace and power caused Atleti’s problems. A fierce strike had Oblak backpedalling, but it flew over the crossbar.
It was ex-Atleti man Raúl Jiménez who had the best chance to level things up. A cross from the left had the Mexican jumping to meet it, but the unmarked striker couldn’t steer his header on target.
The last ten minutes ticked slowly down, but Atleti eventually ran out winners on the night, and of Group C.
Finishing top of the group will put Simeone’s men in a strong position going into Monday’s draw, and tonight was a little bit of revenge for the loss against Benfica in Madrid.
|Mitroglou 75'||Saúl 33'|
|UEFA Champions League|
|08 December 2015|