Champions League: Zenit 1 – 1 Atlético

A late error from Courtois ruins Atleti's 100% record in Europe

Courtois with his head in his hands(Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)

Courtois with his head in his hands
(Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)

Atletico Madrid slipped to a 1-1 draw with FC Zenit in their penultimate UEFA Champions League group game on Tuesday evening.

A second-half Adrian goal was cancelled out by a late error from the normally-reliable Thibaut Courtois.

Due to Atleti’s 100% record so far in the competition, they had already qualified for the next round. Before kick-off, Zenit occupied second place in the group with five points, one point above third placed Porto.

Simeone made changes to the side that crushed Getafe seven nil on the weekend with Insua, Guilavogui and Adrian all making starts in the Petrovsky Stadium. Alderweireld and Raul Garcia were both in the first eleven again due to their impressive performances. Zenit were without key first team players Danny and Ansaldi who were both sidelined due to injury.

Atletico held off Zenit for the first forty five minutes as the Russian team were desperately pushing for the opening goal. With no out and out striker, Raul Garcia led the line for Atleti but the in form midfielder did little to harm Zenit’s goal.

Hulk was the standout player amongst the two teams during the 1st half as Insua found his physical and skilful presence too much to handle down the left wing. Courtois did well to parry a signature long range strike from the Brasilian in the 13th minute. Five minutes later Hulk cut the defence in half with a superb pass but Kerzhakov couldn’t finish the move off.

Atleti applied some pressure of their own at times with the best chance of the first half for the Madrid club falling to Cristian Rodriguez in the 28th minute, who played a one-two with Raul Garcia but couldn’t beat the Zenit keeper, Yuri Lodygin, who charged out to prevent the deadlock being broken.

Atleti seemed happy to absorb the intensifying pressure that was being applied by Zenit and in the process all but surrendered the midfield. Despite this, Atletico came close to a goal before the break as Koke forced Lodygin into a diving save as he volleyed a cushioned header from Garcia.

No substitutes were made by either team at the interval. Despite another rocket shot from Hulk, that Courtois managed to get behind, Atleti were more positive and made good use of the space left in behind Zenit as they pressed on for a goal. And it was the visitors who struck first.

Insua was dispossessed down the left wing and Hulk steamed in at the Atletico defence, after a barrage of shots Kerzhakov’s effort was finally collected by Courtois. Seconds later the ball found itself half way up the pitch being held up by Raul Garcia who managed to play Adrian in behind the Zenit defence and duly slotted past Lodykin to make it one nil to Atleti.

Immediately after the kick off Atletico regained possession and Raul Garcia attempted an audacious chip that had beaten the keeper but could only rattle the crossbar.

Atletico’s standard of football was raised as they enjoyed a larger spell of possession in comparison to the previous half. After hardly seeing any of the ball in the first half, Guilavogui became instrumental in marshalling the space just in front of the defence. His acute sense of positioning and numerous interceptions shed light on why he was brought to the club.

The Russian’s were only behind for 20 minutes. Zenit full back Smolnikov pounced on a Koke error and drove down the wing. With enough men back and only one teammate for the defender to aim for, there was not much for the defence to worry about. A tame cross was met with an Alderweireld header that seemed destined to go out of play for a corner. This was not the case as the ball dipped and sneaked past Courtois, who made a poor attempt to tip it over the bar, which brought the game back to level terms.

In the 78th minute Oliver was introduced in replace of Cristian Rodriguez. The youngster made an immediate impact as on the 81st minute he caught the Zenit defence by surprise and played in Raul Garcia who couldn’t nudge the ball past the keeper. The last real chance of the game came in the 92nd minute as Atleti caught Zenit on the counter and after a succession of passes, the captain Gabi could only blaze the ball over the goal.

Despite only having 38% of the possession overall, Atleti never looked like a team that was leaving the Russian city empty handed. Atleti can feel hard done by as they would have claimed all 3 points had it not been for a fluke goal, but still unbeaten in Europe, and with qualification in the bag, Simeone’s men can prepare for Saturday’s trip to Elche with no major concerns.

by Luis Antonio Muscat

Zenit St Petersburg Atlético
Zenit St Petersburg 11 Atlético
Alderweireld (og) 74'Adrian 53'
Competition UEFA Champions League
Location Stadion Petrovski
Date 26 November 2013
Kick Off 18.00 CET

Team Lineups

Zenit St Petersburg
Lodigin
Smolnikov
Hubocan
Lombaerts
Criscito
Fayzulin (62')
Witsel
Hulk
Shirokov (62')
Shatov
Kerzhakov
Substitutes used
Arshavin (62')
Bystrov (62')
Atlético
Courtois
Juanfran
Miranda
Alderweireld
Insua
Guilavogui
Koke
Gabi
C Rodriguez (78')
Adrian
Raul Garcia
Substitutes used
Oliver Torres (78')

Match Stats

Possession
6337
Shots
1511
On Target
44
Corners
62
Fouls
1716
Yellow Cards
02
Red Cards
00
  • Pantic#10

    Obviously Zenit tried to win, that’s why the high possession but we managed the play very well.
    Cynical team we are!
    Josuha 5 stars!
    Again good defense by Toby/Miranda
    We suffered on the left …Insua had a strong opponent..Hulk!
    Another great performance by RG8.

    Sometimes Adrian and Cebolla reversed their position and they were not in the right place at the right moment

  • piserakos

    We played a decent and proffesional game…. We were obvius not giving the 110% and that is ok(maybe 2-3 players did). We are a great and a big team which now can win at Champions League even with not the strong team and that’s fantastic! Gilavogui he was great I think he can win a place at starting eleven! Adrian scoring again!!! He is back!!!!!! Thank god my favourite player is now back!!!!!!!!! Insua had some trables… Toby with Miranda just great the own goal was Courtois’ fault but I don’t critisise him it is better to do mistakes at games you don’t care about and being all correct at derbies! Now focus at Elche! Manquillo will play against Porto and maybe we see more of Oliver!

  • piserakos

    oh almost forget it(thank you pantic for reminding me) when adrian was on the right and rodriguez on the left we were ok when cebolla was on the right he was bad and sometimes they were both at the same side and koke or garcia had to go at the other. It’s reasonable cause they don’t really play together

  • Will

    Incredible but Oporto couldn’t beat Austria Wien playing in Portugal!
    Austria Wien got their first goal in the CL and second point in a 1-1 draw. Now Zenit needs a simple win against them in Austria to secure the spot.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Insua, Guilavogui & Alderweireld (despite the mistake that cost us a goal) were great
    Adrian scored again
    Juanfran did what he needed to do and got a 3rd yellow, so he will be suspended vs Porto then he will start the knock-out stage cards-free

    but there were 2 negativities :
    1- Oliver played only 12 minutes, I was hoping he will play his first full game !!
    2- we lost half a million of euros ( we should cut them from your salary Thibaut … just kidding ! )

    I wish we got the whole million against Porto,
    and I wish we see Oliver plays the whole game, Manquillo will, so why not him ?!

    and now Raul Garcia has 2 yellows, one yellow away from suspension
    so he should be very careful vs Porto .. or better yet, he should not play

  • marcelo

    Perfect result Nothing on the line and we managed to rest some of our starters. Really wanted to see Guilavogui play and he didn’t disappoint.

  • Arjit

    Guilavogui was great! Very calm and composed but got rough when necessary. Toby played a great game and it sucks that he get credited for the own goal even though it clearly wasn’t his fault. Oh well, great performance from a lot of our bench!

  • Paulo

    Can’t believe that in Simeone’s eyes, Oliver still hasn’t earned his starting place in games like these…

  • Jeronamo

    I don’t want to echo you guys, so all I can say is I agree with each of you. I’m really wondering however why Oliver still hasn’t started, he has the strength (now) and the ability, all he needs is some more experience through play so why not let him? I wonder what our starting eleven will look like against Elche

  • Mario

    Good Result. But I want to know why Mario hasn’t appeared recently. He is one of the important player for Atletico. Is he injured???

  • kris

    Mario still injured. 🙁

  • piserakos

    Mario is injured according to rumors he is almost ‘fit’ so we are waiting for him

  • pantic#10

    Mario – Tiago – Gabi – Guillavogui
    that’s impressive… solid midfiled!
    Tiago is living one of his best season
    Gabi is made of iron.
    Mario is da best
    Guillavogui plays like he ‘s from our cantera, pure Atleti soul 😉

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Raul Garcia got 8/10 last night in UEFA Rating, he was the 5th best player in the day

    by the way, the 1st was my compatriot, FC Basel’s Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah, who got 9/10 after he played a great game & scored for the 3rd time in Chelsea goal in 4 games ( ask him how you did that, Messi ! )
    I was dreaming that I will see him in Atleti this season, and I still dreaming, but now his price is increasing every game he plays

    anyway, back to Raul Garcia, according to UEFA, he is the 2nd highest rated Atleti player in UCL with an average of 7.1/10
    the only one who has more than that is Diego Costa, who has 8.2/10
    but Costa is a striker, and we all know that strikers always have an advantage in ratings, evaluating and personal prizes
    beside, Costa played only 150 minutes in UCL this season, while Raul has played 344 minutes

    So, RG8 is the best Atleti player in UCL so far
    This is very very impressive for a non-starter player
    Manuel Esteban “Manolete”, the journalist at AS and the author of the blog “Corazón Atlético” is keep saying for a long time :
    “Raul Garcia is the best number 12 in Spain”
    I can not agree more

    another Atleti player is keep impressing in UCL, our loanee GK Roberto Jiménez
    what a great game tonight against P$G (this is NOT a typing error)
    yes, Olympiakos lost 2-1, but without him it could have been 4-1 or 5-1
    and now Olympiakos have 7 points, the same as Benfica, but the head-to-head results are in favor of the Greeks
    so they just need a win in their home against the weakest link of the group Anderlecht to qualify to the next round
    and if they did, the biggest credit will be for Roberto

    so, if we couldn’t buy our beloved Courtois, I will not be worry about our goalkeeping

    but that does not mean that I will not be sad .. in fact I will be depressed 🙁

  • Arjit

    I’ve been very impressed with Salah also, he’s a game changer for sure!

  • Pantic#10

    Basel is a nightmare for Chelsea! I remember last year Europa League semi-finals.

  • piserakos

    ahmad… Salah is a great player he look like Salvio(right?) i’ve seen him last year 3-4 times and I had him on my list(I keep a list of players talented who play at ‘small’ teams and could become great players)…. Roberto is fantastic at all Olympiakos’ games most of my familly are Olympiakos so I’ve seen with them all the Champions League games and highlights of their league games and Roberto was the MVP of the most of them better that Mitroglou. According to Greek sites(not the best in the world) Man. City wants Roberto and Olympiakos will give everything to keep him(I don’t think they have the money to buy him) also Simeone doesn’t trust him yet and that opens the green light to the other teams… I’ve said before! If Courtois leave then keep Roberto and Moya? Navas? or someone like them for 2nd choice and make them compete for the 1st spot…. It will be stupid to lose this player!

  • Will

    Apparently Man City is following all the good goalkeepers in Europe. I remember Julio Cesar, Valdez and Casillas are linked to them and now Roberto.

  • kris

    Roberto is going to be back to Atleti next year if we can’t find a goalkeeper just as good or if not better than Courtois… I really hope we can keep Courtois though..

    Atletico de Madrid’s Facebook page is about to reach a milestone 1 million likes soon. That is a RAPID increase of more than 600,000 likes in the past 6 months, if I am correct. Truly Amazing that we are growing more and more as a club and more people are learning about us everyday.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! Eat and drink a lot. Hope you all have a blast with your families.

  • Epoy

    With Atleti’s rise in fame, many bandwagons who were not here during the club’s
    depressing times would join the Atleti ride and that $ucks… The real trademark of
    us colchonero is our rabid support and love for Atleti during the downs of the club…

  • Dircil

    Hạha still I think it’s ok to have plastic fans as they will spread the popularity of Atletico throughout the world! It’s people nature to love a club which knows how to win and delivers a good playing football style. I doubt if some of u guys still support this club if it relegates to the 3rd division. We’re all banwagon fans to some extent!

  • piserakos

    agree with Dircil…. We need plastic fans like everyteam does they mean money it’s simple enough and more tv broadcast at our games. But I dissagree I became Atleti when we were at segounda(the 2nd year) and many of us supported the team at bad times (remember the sold-outs) so ok for sure some only remember the team which they support at good times but thank god we are not Real

  • kris

    LOL I guess I kind of am are a bandwagoner since I became a fan right AFTER the promotion in 2002.. It was just from the love of Fernando Torres and then I actually got to see Atleti play WITH El Nino. He scored decisive goals that season to put us in to a midtable(?) team that year. Oh, and when we beat BARCA 3-0 .. my goshh that was incredible even though they didn’t make the CL that year.. That season La Liga was so fun to watch.. I think it was Depor that came second behind Real Madrid by only a couple points,, I forget. But yehh,, I basically am a bandwagoner but then, that’s when I actually started to love football and Atletico. Now, there’s no way I am switching back even in the worst of positions as long as I get to see my Atleti play on the T.V. And we are having quite a great campaign in all competitions, and we need more bandwagoners because that’s what makes us as a club stronger, richer, and more motivated. Them watching us leads to more broadcast of Atleti games in other countries, and that leads to Atleti getting more money from TV rights, which helps attract more and more greater players to our team, and stabling our team for many many years to come… It’s okay to have bandwagoners as long as they are not as annoying as those Barca/Messi and Madrid/Cristiano fanboys…

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I think as long as Real have Ronaldo & Barca have Messi, Atleti will not have plastic fans
    I believe the new fans Atleti get are switchers form clubs like Valencia, Villareal or even Sevilla
    and those are the real fans, those are crazy .. just like us (I’ve been called crazy & weird many times for supporting Atleti, especially before the 5 cups we won since 2010)

    I believe Atleti do not attract the plastic fans
    they are mostly girls who love Cristiano’s hair and ripped body, or teenagers from both genders who never saw Barca struggling to finish 4th in La Liga and get the last Champions League spot in the last game
    so they are attracted to Real & Barca (actually to Ronaldo & Messi) .. but not to us

    The other type of the new fans are those who were not supporting a Spanish club -or any club- before
    and those know the deal,
    they know that Atleti are not rich club, they know that Atleti are not owned by an Arab or a Russian billionaire, they have seen Atleti sell their stars : Torres, Aguero, Forlan, Falcao, De Gea ….
    and they have seen -or at least heard about- Atleti relegation the year 2000

    and they know that we will keep selling our stars (but maybe in a slower rate) and we can’t win a trophy every year,
    but yet they chose Atleti .. so that make them (or most of them) true fans

    in my opinion : Atleti are plastic-fans proof ! … at least until an oil tycoon buy the club !!!

  • Pantic#10

    Proud to be an Atleti fan since late 80’s.
    Remember when all my friends asked me “Atletico who??!!” Ahah
    I lived all the 90’s Jesus Gil crazy days 🙂 how many good memories. And also bad memories! And it was difficult to find informations without internet!
    No, Atleti, as Ahmad said, is plastic-fan proof 😉
    The good is that with all these trophies a lot of New generation kids (Mainly spanish) Will support the club.

  • Will

    No problem with the plastic-fans.. some will go soon but some will keep the passion forever, and that’s what counts. Reading in the forums here we see how many starting following Atlético after manager or soccer video-games. Some last longer, a lot don’t.

  • piserakos

    lol pantic how old are you? As a kid I always loves football and at my young ages without internet i used to read one papper (every Monday) which had a lot of European football and betting magasines:P… agree with will and the truth is that most of our new fans used to follow a not-spanish team

  • Jeronamo

    Ah well I’m from Barbados “island in the Caribbean” and i must admit i only started following Atletico strongly in the year 2005 so i guess i’m a plastic fan. But i love this club and i’ll never betray it, for years i think i was the only one from my island to be an Atleti supporter so i don’t mind the company of others who start to acknowledge us because of our recent success.

  • Dircil

    Supporting Atletico is like marrying to a Japanese lady. Once u step into it, there is no going back haha! By the way, before my interest for Atletico which started in 2004, I’m a Leeds’s fan. Until now, the 2 mentioned clubs are still my only favorites!

  • EC

    I am Scottish, from Edinburgh to be precise and I started taking a big interest in Atletico Madrid when I was quite young. In 1994 Heart of Midlothian (my main team) Played Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Cup and we beat them 2-1 but lost 3-0 in Madrid and went out of the competition.