PORTO, Portugal: Atletico Madrid grabbed a place in the round of 16 of the Champions League as they attempted to claim the 3-1 victory at Porto on Tuesday (December 7th) in a tense and moody game as the two teams finished with 10 men.
Antoine Griezmann put Atletico ahead against the run of play in the 56th minute, putting the ball into the net after a corner kick after the hosts missed a glut of clear chances on either side of the break.
Atletico’s lead was threatened when Yannick Carrasco was sent off in the 67th minute for raising his hand to Otavio as anger raged over a foul.
However, Porto’s power play only lasted a few moments as Wendell was sacked for appearing to lightly hit Matheus Cunha with his elbow, triggering a scrimmage involving the players and coaching staff.
Diego Simeone’s side saw the game in typical fashion, ceding the ball to Porto but closing the gaps, and substitute Angel Correa took the win with a clinical finish on the counterattack in the 90th minute.
Rodrigo de Paul then added a third goal 60 seconds later as Porto ran out of energy and hope.
The home side got a consolation penalty which Sergio Oliveira converted with the last kick of the match.
Atleti started the game at the bottom of Group B but finished second with seven points, Porto finishing third with five and qualifying for the Europa League.
“This match and this group stage campaign sums up exactly what Atleti is,” said Griezmann.
“We are a real group and we need everyone to do their part to get where we want to be. We never stop believing in it.”
Liverpool finished first with 18 points after winning 2-1 over AC Milan, who finished bottom with four.
Atletico had the odds against them after losing their previous home game to Milan 1-0 and to progress they needed not only to win but also Liverpool to do them a favor.
Atleti suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Real Mallorca in La Liga this weekend and were missing their three best center-backs at Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic and Felipe, forcing midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and the right-back Sime Vrsaljko to play in the heart of the defense.
Things started worryingly when striker Luis Suarez was forced to injure himself in the 13th minute but, as so often in recent years, Atletico struggled.
“We knew exactly what was at stake, but we are Atletico Madrid, we are doing it the hard way and it tastes a lot better like that,” said defender Mario Hermoso.
Atleti created their first real chance when Carrasco made his way through the defense, but Marcos Llorente unleashed his ricocheted cross against the feet of goalkeeper Diogo Costa.
Porto dominated the rest of the first half and Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak made an exceptional save to ward off Luis Diaz, while Llorente threw himself through the goal to prevent Mehdi Taremi from reaching the ball. free.
Taremi missed two clear chances early in the second half, soaring over the bar and then being denied by Oblak’s feet, before Griezmann gave Atleti an unlikely lead with a scrappy goal.
Porto barely recovered from the shock of a delay and substitute goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin was sent off from the stands as both sides struggled to control their anger.
âIt was an amazing night,â Oblak said. “I’m sure a lot of people didn’t believe in us, but it’s in matches like these where we show which team we really are.”