Godín seals victory for Atlético in intense encounter with Juve
Second half goals from defenders José Giménez and Diego Godín gave Diego Simeone's side a precious victory to spoil Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Madrid.
Atlético take a huge advantage to Turin as they saw off Juventus 2-0 with second-half goals from central defenders José Giménez and Diego Godín in an intense and action-filled game at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Both sides went into the game evenly matched and traded blow for blow until the 70th minute, when Atlético subsitute striker Alvaro Morata scored with his head. However, after VAR consultation, the goal was ruled out for a foul by Morata on Chiellini in the build-up. Juve were able to breathe a sigh of relief, but it was that moment that marked the beginning of their implosion.
It was the second VAR decision to go against the hosts after an initial penalty decision for Diego Costa was overturned in the first half. And a clearly incensed Atlético channelled their fury to completely tear Juve apart within the space of ten minutes, scoring two goals in quick succession.
The first came in minute 78 through Giménez, who, after the Juve defence failed to properly deal with a Morata header, latched on to a loose ball to bundle it past keeper Szczesny from close range.
Juve’s failure to clear their lines also led to the second goal five minutes later. Griezmann whipped in a dangerous free-kick set piece, which Mandzukic could only manage to header sideways towards Diego Godin on right post. The Atlético captain volleyed his effort into an open net to send the Wanda crowd ecstatic.
If Juventus were to going have one more chance to score in the dying seconds and take a vital away goal back to Turin, who else was it going to fall to but Cristiano Ronaldo?
The Portuguese almost had given the Serie A side the lead after nine minutes with a thunderous free kick from 35 yards. This time in the 93rd minute, it was a header from five yards, which he could only guide well over the bar to draw a sneer-laden cheer of relief from the home crowd. Seconds later the ref blew his whistle, allowing everyone in the stadium’s heart rate return to normal after a drama-packed affair.
Atlético Madrid vs Juventus: as it happened
Atlético Madrid vs Juventus: preview
Cristiano Ronaldo returns to the Spanish capital with Juventus to face old rivals Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday.
And Atlético boss Diego Simeone knows all about what the Juventus danger man is capable of from his days at Real Madrid, with whom he scored 15 goals in 31 games against Los Rojiblancos. The Portuguese will no doubt be hungry to get a vital away goal for Juventus to silence the home crowd, who will be sure to give him an icy reception in his first game in Madrid since he left Los Blancos last summer.
But in the pre-match press conference, Simeone did not want to focus on Ronaldo’s capabilities, but rather on the damage his men can inflict on the Serie A Champions.
"He made a decision to change and has picked a big challenge in going to Juventus. But we're thinking instead about Griezmann, Morata, Costa, Koke, Saul,” said the Argentine coach, who also believes both teams are evenly matched and have a 50-50 chance of coming through.
After a foot operation that had kept him side-lined since early December, striker Diego Costa returned to action for Atléti against Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga last weekend. The Spaniard came on to play 30 minutes of the 1-0 win in Vallecas and AS has learned that Simeone plans to start him up front against Juventus, alongside Koke and Griezmann, meaning there would be no place in the starting line-up for new signing Alvaro Morata.
Atlético have reached this stage of the competition after having come through Group A with four wins and one loss, which put them second on goal difference with Borussia Dortmund.
Juventus also suffered just one defeat in the group stages, finishing top of Group H, but are yet to be beaten in Serie A after an astonishing 24 games. They remain the only unbeaten team in Europe’s top five leagues and, with Ronaldo leading from the front, are one of the favourites to win this year’s edition of Europe’s premier competition.
Alongside Ronaldo up front, Juve coach Massimiliano Alllegri will be expected to name Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, who will look to create problems for Atlético’s likely central defensive pairing of captain Diego Godín and José Giménez.
Giménez is expected to fill in for France's Lucas Hernandez, who misses out with a knee injury. But aside from the French centre back, Simeone will be able to pick a full strength side with the expected return of Koke and Diego Costa.
Meanwhile, Allegri will be without Juan Cuadrado, who is still recovering from a knee operation, and Sami Khedira, who underwent a successful heart procedure this Wednesday for an irregular heartbeat and will be out for the next month.
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