Atletico Madrid took full advantage of Bayern Munich’s shock Champions League defeat to Rostov and secured their passage as Group D winners thanks to a 2-0 home win over PSV on Wednesday.
It was by no means vintage from an Atletico side clearly short of confidence following Saturday’s 3-0 humbling by bitter rivals Real Madrid, but they managed to bounce back thanks to their formidable French frontline of Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro.
Atletico began brightly and crafted a couple of strong chances early on, but PSV quickly got to grips with the hosts and their sturdiness at the back gave them a good platform to build on.
PSV started to look the better team after half-time, though Atletico’s trademark ruthless streak shone through and Gameiro produced a clinical finish in the 55th minute to capitalise on the visitors’ lack of cutting edge.
Atletico effectively ended the chances of a second surprise result of the day in Group D after Bayern slipped up as Griezmann coolly added a second with 24 minutes to go, putting him level with Luis Aragones as the club’s top scorer in the Champions League and European Cup with 12 goals.
The result confirms Atletico’s progression as group winners with a match still to play, while PSV will need to beat Rostov in their final outing to keep their European campaign going in the Europa League.
Atletico looked every inch a side desperate to prove a point during the early stages and they went close twice inside the first 10 minutes.
Gameiro was the first to trouble PSV, as he met Yannick Carrasco’s teasing right-wing cross and sliced wide from close range, before Griezmann drilled agonisingly past the right-hand post from 18 yards out.
PSV did get some defensive respite in the form of a swift counter-attack 19 minutes in, but Griezmann tracked back brilliantly to put Steven Bergwijn under pressure and Jan Oblak ultimately denied the Dutch forward.
The home side struggled to regain their superiority for the rest of the half, though, and PSV gradually became a more prominent force in the final third without truly threatening.
PSV initially looked the more purposeful side after the break, but their inability to craft chances was ultimately punished.
Griezmann prodded a clever pass into the right side of the area for Gameiro and the striker drilled a low shot across Jeroen Zoet and into the bottom-far corner.
Zoet was beaten again just after the hour mark, as Griezmann latched on to Tiago’s perfectly weighted throughball and fired low to the goalkeeper’s right.
The hosts proceeded to sit back and invite PSV on to them in the final 15 minutes, but the away side failed to cause them any significant bother and Atletico cruised across the line to book their place in the last 16.
Key Opta stats:
– Atletico have won five games in a row in Champions League for the first time and are the only side to have won all their games in the group stage of this season’s competition.
– Griezmann has had a hand in five of Atletico’s last six goals in Champions League (3 goals, 2 assists).
– Gameiro has scored his first goal for Atletico in the Champions League in his fifth game.
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