Wednesday 26 June 2019

Atletico are firmly in the driving seat

Opener: Gimenez
Opener: Gimenez

Atletico Madrid took a huge advantage in their heavyweight Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, earning a 2-0 home win thanks to late goals from Uruguayan defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin in a tense, incident-packed game.

Gimenez slid to the floor in a crowded penalty box to bundle the ball into the net from close range in the 78th minute, after former Juve forward Alvaro Morata had a goal ruled out following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.

Atletico also had a penalty awarded then taken away by the technology earlier in the game but only grew in determination and captain Godin grabbed a vital second goal in the 83rd minute to take into the return leg in Turin.

The veteran defender appeared at the near post to knock a loose ball into the net after Atletico wreaked havoc again from a set-piece, the shot deflecting off familiar foe Cristiano Ronaldo on its way in.

Atletico striker Costa and midfielder Thomas Partey and Juve's left-back Alex Sandro will all miss the second leg on Tuesday, March 12 after picking up their third bookings of the tournament.

The meeting of two European juggernauts, who have reached four of the last five Champions League finals between them without lifting the trophy, was as bruising and tight a match as could be expected between sides renowned for their intimidating defences.

Juve's signing of Ronaldo was a clear attempt to boost their firepower and hopes of winning the competition but the man who scored 22 times against Atletico as a Real Madrid player was kept relatively quiet on his return to the Spanish capital.

Ronaldo - who is aiming to win a sixth Champions League and a fourth in a row - had Juve's best chance as his powerful 30-metre free-kick was tipped over by Jan Oblak.

The Wanda Metropolitano will host this year's final and, as the Atletico fans sang long and loud into the night, they did so in the hope that maybe their team will be there that night too.

Atletico have now won their last nine European games at the Wanda Metropolitano and are unbeaten in 13 games.

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