Champions League: Atlético 2 – 0 Galatasaray
Griezmann double seals passage into Champions League last 16
Atlético Madrid booked their place in the next round of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night, with two goals from Antoine Griezmann earning a 2-0 win against Galatasaray in the Vicente Calderón.
Just like in the reverse fixture back in September, the Frenchman made the difference but it was a strong performance from the whole team, who are now level on points with Benfica at the top of Group C.
Cholo Simeone opted to make just one change to the team that won at Real Betis on Sunday, restoring Josema Giménez to the line-up in place of Stefan Savic following injury. Fernando Torres kept his place up front.
The red and whites made a fast start to the match, looking to get on the ball and open up Galatasaray from the outset. The Turks had assistant Cláudio Taffarel in charge, having only appointed new manager Mustafa Denizli on Monday.
It was they who would have the game’s first real chance, but after a fantastic touch to put himself in 1-on-1 with Oblak, somehow Wesley Sneijder dragged his left-footed effort wide of goal from close range.
Gala were left to rue the miss, as moments later they found themselves trailing. It was a case of déjà vu for them, Antoine Griezmann striking like he did in Istanbul to open the scoring.
The goal came from a fluid move down the right for Atleti, with Gabi picking up the ball in space out wide before putting it on a plate for the Frenchman to exquisitely head the ball home for 1-0.
In terms of chances the first half wasn’t too eventful, although it was the home side who enjoyed the possession and played more or less the whole game in their opponent’s half of the field.
Griezmann came closest to doubling the lead before the break, but Fernando Muslera – not for the last time on the night – was equal to his long range volleyed attempt.
Atleti started turning on the style after the break and opened up the Cim-Bom on a number of occasions, but were again struggling to convert their dominance into goals as has been the case pretty much all season.
Carrasco almost found the net less than a minute after the re-start and Godín – left unmarked inside the six-yard box – managed to head Koke’s cross back in the direction it came from rather than beyond his compatriot in the Galatasaray goal.
Muslera made a number of impressive stops to keep the scores low, but could do nothing about the second goal as his defence was carved open once more.
It was the same combination as the first goal for the hosts, and after a delightful nutmeg to break free of his marker, the outstanding Gabi layed the ball across for Antoine Griezmann to tap home his second.
2-0 didn’t flatter Atleti, and they continued to go for more in the final stages, especially with Fernando Torres still chasing his 100th goal for the club in attack.
Torres’ only real chance came towards the end from just outside the box, but Muslera got down well to palm the ball away. He did set one up for substitute Vietto with a delightfully weighted pass, but the Uruguayan stopper made the stop once again.
The best chance for the third fell to Óliver Torres, but after goodwork from his namesake yet again, he still couldn’t beat Muslera despite having the freedom of the penalty area.
As it were, the game fizzled out in quiet fashion, with Gala’s only real effort of note coming from a Wesley Sneijder free-kick on the edge of the box that curled harmlessly into Oblak’s hands.
Cholo’s side had 25 efforts in total, twelve of those on target of which Muslera was equal to ten. He was able to afford rests to Griezmann, Carrasco and Tiago before full-time such was the dominance, all of whom given rousing receptions by the Calderón.
The win takes Atleti up to 10 points alongside Benfica, and mathematically certain of a place in the last 16. However, Raúl Jiménez’s double in Astana earlier today means that we will need to go to Lisbon and win in two week’s time in order to top the group.
Next up, the rojiblancos are back in action at the Calderón with a league game against Espanyol on Saturday, where a win will take our unbeaten run to ten matches.
|UEFA Champions League|
|25 November 2015|