Champions League: Atlético 2 – 0 Porto
Raúl García and Diego Costa knock out FC Porto
Atletico Madrid sentenced Porto to a Thursday night Europa league schedule as the Portuguese team was beaten with two 1st half goals.
Atleti started their final group stage game 7 points clear of 2nd placed Zenit St Petersburg. Whereas the visitors needed Austria Vienna to pick up points and also for themselves to end Atletico Madrid’s unbeaten home record so far this season.
Atletico entered the game with only 4 changes from the side that thrashed Sant Andreu on the weekend with the two cantera starlets Óliver and Manquillo making deserved starts. Porto brought a full strength squad to the Calderón with every intention of taking all three points from the game.
Porto dominated the possession and shots on goal in the first half, but Atleti ended the first 45 minutes with a 2 goal lead.
Jackson Martinez, who was the main goal threat for the Portuguese side, initially rattled the crossbar on the 7th minute. Some moments later Raúl García added to his goal tally with an audacious shot from the narrowest of angles. The stocky attacking midfielder chested the ball down in the box and unleashed a shot that struck the crossbar and nestled in the bottom corner leaving a despairing Heltón stunned.
Porto mounted the pressure after the goal and when Aranzubia brought down Martinez inside the box they were awarded a penalty in the 27th minute. However, the 34-year old back up ‘keeper added a penalty save to his resume as he denied Porto getting an equaliser succesfully stopping Josué’s spot kick attempt.
Immediately after, Costa found himself one on one with Helton who stopped his ‘compatriot’s’ shot with a trailing leg. Diego Costa corrected his error in the 37th minute when he latched onto a looping through ball from Óliver Torres and, being played onside by Danilo, headed the ball past Heltón and coolly slotted into an open net.
Porto’s frustration was highlighted by the four bookings they picked up in the first half as they crashed out of the Champions League. Atleti seemed happy to counterattack and dealt with most of the danger they were presented with.
At the break David Villa replaced Costa, whose goal on the night took him to 19 so far in the season. Despite not seeing the lion’s share of possession, Atleti were in control as their Portuguese counterparts failed to break down their defence. Porto despatched a plethora of aerial balls to probe Atleti’s defence, but all were dealt with, most notably by man of the match Raul Garcia, whose defensive work rate was excellent.
Porto hit the woodwork again in the 68th minute as substitute Lica caught out Atletico’s defence only to be denied by the post. Diego Simeone introduced Léo Baptistão in the 81st minute to replace Adrián, who made little impact on the game. It was Léo’s first game back after picking up an injury in the first leg against Porto two months ago.
Overall it was a very confident performance from Atleti, who showed their class even without many key first team players. Raúl García’s red hot form continued as he shone again in the red and white shirt. Additionally, Emiliano Insúa impressed as he controlled the left wing as did Manquillo, who displayed maturity on the opposite side. Óliver, despite getting an assist, struggled against tough opposition, but vitally gained first team experience.
With the Champions’ League group stage sorted, Atleti can now focus on the league starting with a visit from Valencia on Sunday.
On Monday the draw for the next round will be held. Possible opponents for Atleti on the 18th or 19th of February are Arsenal, Galatasaray, Leverkusen, Manchester City, Milan, Olympiakos and Schalke 04.
by Luis Antonio Muscat
|Atlético||2 0||FC Porto|
|Raúl García 14'|
|Diego Costa 37'|
|UEFA Champions League|
|Estadio Vicente Calderón|
|11 December 2013|
|Óliver Torres (61')|
|Diego Costa (45')|
|Arda Turan (61')|
|Lucho González (63')|