ATLETICO MADRID VS JUVENTUS – MATCH REPORT
For Atlético Madrid it was the perfect result and it leaves them dreaming of the perfect final. Two late goals from their two Uruguayan centre-backs, first José Maria Giménez and then Diego Godín, sent a frantic roar round this stadium, the kind of noise Wanda Metropolitano has never heard before. The Wanda Metropolitano, Atlético’s home for just over a year, will host the 2019 Champions League final and, as they sang long and loud, they did so in the hope that their beloved team will be there too,.
It may be only the first leg, it may be only the round of 16, but the manner of Atlético Madrid’s victory convinced them that maybe it is possible after all.
Atlético had hit a bad patch of late with a string of bad results and Juventus had been considered the worst possible opponents, twice finalists in the last four years, the team whose own pursuit of this trophy had led them to sign Cristiano Ronaldo – the leader of Atlético’s rivals who had twice scored penalties against them in fatalistic finals of their own. He stung Jan Oblak’s hands with a trademark free-kick six minutes into the game and leapt to head goalwards in the very last minute here.
But Ronaldo could not find the finish and Atlético were not to be denied, not even after they twice thought they had the breakthrough only twice to have it taken away from them by VAR: a first-half penalty that was turned into a free-kick and a second-half goal, headed in by Álvaro Morata, that was ruled out for a foul.
That might have brought the fatalism flooding back; instead it brought Atlético attacking even more. And by the end of an intense and sometimes exhilarating night, they had secured a deserved lead to take to Turin, and this place was going wild. Atletico had just been denied the opening goal when Giménez struck from close range, reaching Morata’s knockdown. And four minutes later Godín got the second.
That this was not going to be the expected tight, defensive game was announced early. After only 48 seconds Griezmann fired a shot wide and within a minute Diego Costa was running at Juve. Although his pass was overhit, the start was intense, the game shaping to be direct and open, although there was one Atlético move made up of four consecutive backheels. By halftime there had also been 12 shots.
Leonardo Bonucci headed over, as did Mario Mandzukic. But it was Atlético who came closest with a swift move that started with Rodrigo and went through Thomas Partey and Koke to send Costa racing away, only to be sent tumbling by Mattia De Sciglio. The referee pointed to the penalty spot but the VAR corrected him. With the outside of his foot Griezmann drew a save from Wojciech Szczesny.
Another run brought another chance early in the second half, Griezmann sending Costa dashing clean through, only for him to scuff a dreadful shot wide, his foot taking some of the turf with it.
Next a clever ball from Koke released Griezmann, who gently lifted his shot over Szczesny and back off the bar. Simeone could sense the opportunity that others feared was slipping away, replacing Costa with Morata and sending on Thomas Lemar and Ángel Correa.
The changes were partly forced but Atlético, on top and seeing the space before them, were now set up to run at Juventus with even greater determination. The goal came – but then went again.
Morata powered in a header and celebrated wildly. Post-goal music boomed out. But Giorgio Chiellini complained of a push so Zwayer went to the VAR and, for the second time, came back with bad news for Atlético. Good news, though, followed fast as Atletico finished the game with a two goal advantage heading into the second leg leaving Juventus with a mountain to climb.