Champions League: Benfica 1 – 2 Atlético

Atleti top their group after claiming victory in Portugal

The two goalscorers celebrate the win against Benfica

The two goalscorers celebrate the win against Benfica

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.

Benfica Atlético Madrid
Benfica 12 Atlético Madrid
Mitroglou 75'Saúl 33'
 Vietto 55'
Competition UEFA Champions League
Location Lisbon
Date 08 December 2015
Kick Off 20:45 CET
  • Koke

    I’m really happy for Vietto. I was beginning to think he’d be better off getting loaned out in January or next summer, but hopefully instead this game represents a turning point and he’ll be able to make a meaningful contribution to the team. Both of the goals represented a ‘fox-in-the-box’ style, almost like David Villa, with his quick thinking and instincts.

    The first half was excellent. Although I am really not a fan of Atleti’s recent industrious style, winning by one goal almost every game, it is definitely a useful skill to have for tough away matches against strong teams like today. However, it’s not gonna work every time. Benifica definitely could’ve scored a second with a little more luck. I’m still praying for the day that we get better at both creating a finishing chances, so that the scoreline can better reflect the level of skill in our team.

    Great game from Saul. I still can’t figure out what type of player he is. Is he a DM? CM? AM? Box-to-box? He isn’t the best dribbler in the world or best passer in the world, but he is good enough at both. He scores goals a lot, but also can defend. The only thing I know about him is that he’s a fighter and will perform any role Simeone asks him to. I love his spirit and can’t wait to see him develop. He might even turn out to be a new Raul Garcia, although I hope Saul ends up being a little more creative.

    For once, just once, I’d like to see Oliver and Carrasco on the field at the same time. Of course, it would mean sacrificing either one of Gabi or Saul, but I think against a smaller team it would be a worthwhile switch.

    Really happy we finished first. Honestly, the only teams we might be the underdogs against would be Barcelona, Bayern, and maybe Madrid, although we could definitely beat any of them on a good day. Thankfully though, we can’t face Barca or Madrid next round anyway, and we just avoided Bayern (and City). I hope we don’t get PSG or Juventus, who are both probably in the top 6 teams in the world along with us. Otherwise, any other match up we should be favorites. Even teams like Arsenal or Chelsea, which in my opinion are both overrated.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    A loan is for a homegrown youngster who can’t have enough minutes, or someone from outside Spain or whole Europe who needs to adapt, Vietto is neither, he is the opposite of that, he came to us as the top scorer of one of the top 6 Spanish clubs in recent years, and he cost us a lot of money .. a loan for Vietto was never an option for the club .
    But now I’m beginning to think that Kris was right when he said before the season started that we didn’t need Jackson,
    I disagreed with him then, but now we have played 6 games without him and nobody noticed, even with our suffering to score and our poor record in goals and all those missed chances .
    If Jackson didn’t do something special, like scoring 25+ goals with some braces and a hat-trick, and winning us big games,
    I won’t be surprised if he didn’t stay more than one season, like Mandzukic .

    There is a cool word in Spanish for a player like Saul : “todocampista”, a player who can play anywhere in the midfield .
    And I don’t think it’s a problem if Simeone didn’t figure out his best position, we have a great player in Al-Ahly & Egypt national team called Ahmad Fathy who can play as a defensive midfielder, a winger, a center back, a right back and sometimes a left back, and he still switching between those position even after he turned 31 .
    (By the way, you can add a center back to those positions of Saul you mentioned, he played in that position with Rayo)

    Everybody wants to see Oliver and Carrasco and even Correa at the same time, but everyday it seems more difficult.
    But if Simeone is insisting on a double pivot with Koke not one of them, and on a classic number nine, and since Koke & Grizi can’t be benched, which leaves only one spot to Oliver, Carrasco and Correa -many of you will disagree with this- :
    I would give it to Oliver .

    After what we have suffered against Bayer last season, I think everybody knows that there is no easy opponent in UCL knockout stage, however, there is only one “scary” team that I’m really glad we have a voided them, Bayern .

  • Koke

    I see what you mean about how Vietto shouldn’t be loaned, and honestly I’m still not sure yet… If he explodes into life throughout the remainder of the season I’d say keep him at all costs! It is especially helpful that Simeone likes/trusts him, which is huge because there have been many talented players that Simeone didn’t trust (Jimenez, Cerci, Diego Ribas, etc). It’s just that Vietto is good enough to be getting 60-90 minutes every game at a lot of teams in Europe, just not at any giants including Atleti. However if he proves that he is actually improving rather than degenerating we should keep him. He looked like he was unconfident earlier on in the season but hopefully that’s over now.

    Between Oliver and Carrasco is a really tough choice. Right now I think Oliver has more potential (they are both future stars, I think, but Oliver can be the next Spanish genius to reach Xavi/Iniesta level), BUT I think tactically Carrasco should be the one to get picked. I’m still not a fan of playing 4 CMs at the same time, I think it is inefficient and makes our goalscoring problems even bigger. When Carrasco is on the field, he makes the opponents fullback nervous and creates space for Filipe Luis to join the attack; Carrasco can also take the ball up the field himself, not to mention his incredibly dangerous crosses and shots. In reality though it shouldn’t be a choice, only for Simeone it is.

    I think you’re right that Simeone is probably going to continue playing all three of Koke, Gabi, and another DM, and that only one of the three young pearls will play at once. However, I am annoyed that Simeone chooses to do this, he even said over the summer that he is planning to start playing Koke at CM. I’m annoyed he’s going back on his word.

  • Ivan Ivanov

    Great win last night! Very good performance from Vietto at last. That is the player we have bought from Villareal and we want to see. Solid at the back, strong performance from Savic as well, good in the midfield and clinical in attack – Cholo style 😉
    Now we wait for the draw on Monday. It’s a good thing to avoid Bayern and have the return leg at Calderon!
    Personally I would like to avoid PSG, any other team is acceptable as a draw…of course we can draw Gent, PSV or Dinamo K, but we can also draw Juventus, Chelsea, Arsenal….
    I wanted City, but unfortunately they finished top of their group…

    Like many of you, I also would like to see a pivot of Koke-Saul and Carrasco, Oliver/Correa, Grizi and Vietto/Jackson in front….maybe when Gabi is suspended or rested Cholo will be “forced” to keep his promise and put Koke in the CM position and we can see something like this. Saul’s progress is fantastic and hopefully he will progress even more (Saul – the new Raul) 🙂
    Very important game vs Bilbao on Sunday. We must take the win to keep Barca in close distance and stay ahead of the rich neighbours. San Jose is suspended for them, they have a Europe League match on Thursday, so it’s good news for us, but Aduriz form is a little scary, but we must take the win! I expect a very warm welcome for Raul!

    Aupa Atleti!