Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Maximum points as Atletico delight patient fans

SoccerNews in La Liga, Ligue 1, UEFA Champions League 1 Oct 2008

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Patient Atletico Madrid fans savoured their first Champions League home match for 11 years and the team did not disappoint defeating Marseille 2-1 in Wednesday's Group D match to maintain their 100 percent start.

Argentine Sergio “Kun” Aguero followed up his brace against PSV Eindhoven with another goal to put Atletico ahead but it was Raul Garcia's goal that proved decisive after Mamadou Niang equalised for Marseille.

After crushing PSV 3-0 in their first match Atletico, competing in Europe's premier competition for the first time since the 1996/97 season, have a maximum six points.

Atletico's next challenge is a home match against 2005 winners Liverpool, who also have maximum points, on October 22 when Atletico legend Fernando Torres returns to the Vicente Calderon stadium for the first time.

Marseille travel to PSV Eindhoven on the same day with both teams still searching for their first points with the Ditcu side having gone down 3-1 to Liverpool also on Wednesday.

Atletico were ravaged by injuries with Georgios Seitardis, Pablo Ibanez, Diego Forlan and Simao all out.

Marseille, winners of the inaugural Champions League in 1993, started with a 4-5-1 formation with Niang as a lone target-man.

The idea was to frustrate Atletico but the home side got off to the perfect start with Aguero scoring after just four minutes.

The 20-year-old Argentine deftly controlled a long ball and fired home the club's first Champions League goal at the Calderon for over a decade.

Aguero had another glorious chance three minutes later but Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda blocked his chip.

Marseille were all at sea and Garcia saw his header creep centimetres wide on 13 minutes.

But Erik Gerets's side equalised on 16 minutes against the run of play with the athletic Niang producing a giant leap and the Senegalese striker hung brilliantly in the air before heading past Leo Franco.

It was a setback for the Spanish hosts but they restored their lead six minutes later when Garcia cleverly flicked on a free-kick.

Shortly before the half-time whistle Franco was forced to produce a fine save to deny Niang whose curling shot looked bound for the top corner.

The second half was also full of chances and Atletico captain Maxi Rodriguez almost scored with a brilliant back heel on 55 minutes that would have been a goal of the season contender had it gone in.

Gerets introduced former Liverpool man Boudewijn Zenden to give his team some width and the hosts had some hairy moments especially when Niang's 89th minute strike went agonisingly wide.

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