Bayer Leverkusen v Atlético Madrid: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened
This article titled “Bayer Leverkusen v Atlético Madrid: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened” was written by Jacob Steinberg, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 21st February 2017 21.37 UTC
A fun game and a spirited performance from Bayer Leverkusen in the second half, but Atletico Madrid were far too good and the truth is that the scoreline makes it look much closer than it was in reality. Despite some weirdly slack defending at times after the break, four away goals should be enough to ensure that Atletico will cruise into the last eight, barring a miraculous fightback from Leverkusen in the second leg in Spain. It’s highly unlikely. They were outclassed tonight and fortunate that Atletico limited themselves to four. That’s all from me. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.
Full-time: Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Atletico Madrid
It’s all over.
90 min+2: Torres releases Correa on the right. He scampers clear and aims for the far corner, but Leno saves with his feet.
90 min+1: Bailey’s deflected shot runs to Pohjanpalo, but he directs his effort straight at Moya from close range. Atletico’s defending in the second half has been unusually suspect.
90 min: Another booking. Filipe Luis shoves an arm in Henrichs’s face and he’ll also miss the second leg.
89 min: Gabi won’t play in the second leg. He’s been booked.
88 min: Leon Bailey replaces Julian Brandt. Fernando Torres has been booked, meanwhile.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Atletico Madrid (Torres, 86 min)
Koke opens Leverkusen up on the right, a perceptive pass creating space for Vrsaljko. He whips a cross towards the near post, where Fernando Torres escapes his markers to glance a low header inside the far post. That should be that.
85 min: Atletico break at last and Koke curves a pass from right to left for Correa. He settles for a corner, though, and Atletico are going to take their sweet time over this.
83 min: Kampl ambitiously and wastefully drags a shot well wide from 25 yards. The Leverkusen have heeded Hernandez’s call. They’re making a racket again.
82 min: Hernandez, who’s really come alive in the past few minutes, sees a shot deflected over from 20 yards. Now he’s whipping up the crowd. Leverkusen fancy an equaliser here!
81 min: Leverkusen are all over Atletico now! This is absurd. The ball reaches Hernandez in the area. This time the little poacher turns and shoots and Filipe Luis clears off the line!
80 min: Henrichs cleverly finds Hernandez in space in the Atletico area. He wants too long and loses possession. Moments later, Hernandez nods goalwards and Savic blocks. Against all the odds, Leverkusen are beginning to turn the screw!
78 min: Atletico make a double change, Fernando Torres on for Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Angel Correa on for Antoine Griezmann.
77 min: Almost a second Atletico own-goal! Wendell flashes another awkward cross into the middle from the left, Gimenez hangs out a leg unconvincingly and the ball bounces into the side netting. Atletico deal with the corner,
75 min: Gabi is still receiving treatment. Leverkusen’s supporters, whistling furiously, are suggesting he’s milking this for all it’s worth. He eventually gets back to his feet, hobbling gingerly.
73 min: Aranguiz, who should have been booked for a cynical foul earlier, catches Gabi with a late challenge. The referee bides his time, with Gabi rolling around on the floor, and eventually decides to book Aranguiz, who’s very lucky to still be on the pitch.
71 min: Thomas Partey replaces Kevin Gameiro. It’s a defensive midfielder for a forward. Read into that what you will.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 Atletico Madrid (Savic own goal, 68 min)
Brandt escapes down the left and whips a dangerous bouncer into the six-yard box. Moya should deal with it, given that no Leverkusen player attacks the cross, but instead he pushes it straight into the unwitting Savic, who can do nothing to prevent a highly avoidable own goal. Oh dear. Dismal goalkeeping and Leverkusen are back in it again! On the touchline, steam is coming out of Simeone’s ears.
66 min: Joel Pohjanpalo replaces Karim Bellarabi. They’ll be excited on YLE.
64 min: Wendell catches Vrsaljko. He’s booked.
63 min: Carrasco is through on goal, but the flag’s correctly up for offside. There’s at least one more goal in this for Atletico. They’d be rude not to.
62 min: Why YLE show Leverkusen matches,” says Dylan Drummond. “The reason is mundane: Finnish striker Pohjanpalo is in the Leverkusen squad. Previously, though not nowadays, Finnish football icon Sami Hyypiä was involved with Leverkusen, that was a strong reason for selecting them for a Finnish audience. Is my two cents worth. Or maybe there is an YLE conspiracy, we shall never know of…”
60 min: If it stays like this, Leverkusen are going to need at least three goals at the Vicente Calderon. Hmmm.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Atletico Madrid (Gameiro pen, 59 min)
Gameiro hammers his penalty down the middle, Leno dives out the way and Atletico restore their two-goal lead.
PENALTY TO ATLETICO MADRID!
57 min: The excellent Kevin Gameiro nips in front of Dragovic, then nutmegs and wriggles past the struggling defender, who hauls him down in front of the official behind the goal. The only question is whether it was inside the area, but the referee points to the spot and books poor old Dragovic.
56 min: Kevin Volland replaces Kai Havertz.
55 min: Carrasco blooters one over from 25 yards.
52 min: That Leverkusen goal hasn’t really knocked Atletico out of their stride. They’re still being granted an astonishing amount of space on the break and here comes Gameiro, burning effortlessly away from Kampl on the right. He steams into the area and decides not to shoot, unselfishly, but his cutback is just behind Griezmann, who would have had a tap-in.
50 min: Kevin Gameiro hits the bar! Atletico break after Koke intercepts a poor pass in the middle. Aranguiz tries to halt the move, cynically bringing Griezmann down from behind, but the referee astutely plays an advantage and the ball’s worked to Gameiro on the left of the Leverkusen area. From a tight angle, he hammers a shot against the angle of post and bar. So unlucky.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Atletico Madrid (Bellarabi, 48 min)
It’s not so silent now! Kampl spreads a pass out to the right for Wendell, who cuts it back for Bellarabi to sweep a sweet first-time finish into the far corner from six yards out! Game on!
46 min: Off we go again. Atletico are on the attack straight away. Carrasco has a snapshot from the right. It’s deflected to safety. The ground is silent. “The Finnish state broadcaster YLE shows one Champions League game a week,” says Kari Tulinius. “They almost always, if possible, show Bayer Leverkusen matches. I have not been able to ascertain why. My theory is that some YLE bigwig’s a fan. So since moving to Finland I’ve seen more Leverkusen games in two years than I had before in nearly three decades of football watching. They always look like they’re on the edge of calamity, even if they’re winning they’re panicky. Mind you, usually they play better than this.”
Half-time: Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Leverkusen are lucky they’re only two goals down. Atletico Madrid have been excellent and have probably already made sure of their place in the last eight thanks to goals from Saul and Antoine Griezmann.
44 min: They could probably call this now. Leverkusen aren’t scoring two unanswered goals, are they, let alone three.
41 min: Bellarabi tries to speed past Vrsalkjo on the left, but the Atletico right-back isn’t having it, mopping up with ease. Bellarabi petulantly kicks out at him. Vrsalkjo, well aware he has the winger’s number, grins.
39 min: Kampl’s cross from the right finds Hernandez, but he mistimes his header. Gimenez puts it behind for a corner. Atletico deal with it.
37 min: This is the first time since their 3-1 win over Chelsea in 2014 that Atletico have scored more than once in the away leg of a knockout tie in the Champions League, which maybe says more about this injury-hit Bayer Leverkusen side than it does about the Spaniards.
34 min: The MBMer curse strikes. Gameiro capitalises on more dreadful Leverkusen defending, scampering into space on the right – where have all the defenders across – and setting up Griezmann for what looks certain to be his second. Instead Leno saves this one, turning Griezmann’s effort over the bar. If anything, it felt a bit too easy for Griezmann this time and his finish was a shade too casual.
31 min: Griezmann’s finish for the second goal was that of a player utterly confident in everything that he sets out to achieve at the moment. It was the finish of an elite player, a striker who knew there was no way he was going to miss, the goalkeeper rendered an irrelevance by the conviction of the strike.
29 min: Brandt and Kampl combine on the left, the former dribbling into the Atletico area. He prods a ball into the middle, looking for Hernandez, and the sliding Koke is relieved to see his attempted clearance spin just wide of the far post! Moments later, Kampl tries to emulate Saul with a bending left-footed effort from the right, but Moya tips it over.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Atletico Madrid (Griezmann, 25 min)
Dragovic, who’s having a shocker out there, has had a nightmare here. Bayer Leverkusen are on the attack, but Atletico are sitting deep and a cross is headed away by Gimenez. Not that much should happen from there. Leverkusen have the situation under control as the ball drops towards Dragovic just inside Atletico’s half. Yet instead of bringing it down, he shanks a woeful volley straight to the wily Gameiro, who races into the vacant Leverkusen half. He uses his pace and strength to hold off two desperate Leverkusen defenders, then shows composure when he reaches the area, spinning to set up Griezmann, who’s not about to pass up this opportunity. With only Leno to beat, his left-footed finish off the underside of the bar is emphatic and this tie might be over already.
23 min: Atletico have a ruthless edge to them tonight and look capable of scoring pretty much every time they attack, especially on the break. Leverkusen look a bit outmatched.
21 min: Javier Hernandez, who hasn’t been in the game so far, is alert when the ball runs to him on the edge of the area, shooting snappily. But his swept effort is straight at Moya. It’s a sign of his threat, though. Atletico won’t want to be giving him too much space.
19 min: Saul loves playing against German sides in the Champions League, doesn’t he? He scored a peach against Bayern Munich last year. He’s got a wonderful left foot. He’s an exceptional player and only 22.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 Atletico Madrid (Saul Niguez, 17 min)
Saul Niguez picks up possession on the right, just inside the Bayer Leverkusen area, and Dragovic stands off, inviting him to shoot, defending straight out of the Francis Coquelin playbook. Mistake. He looks up, moves the ball on to his left foot and then Robbens a beautiful curling shot high into the far corner, Bernd Leno nowhere near it. That is a gem of a strike. Away goals don’t come much better than that!
16 min: Benjamin Henrichs clatters through Carrasco and picks up a booking that rules him out of the second leg in Spain.
14 min: This is pleasingly end-to-end at the moment and now Leverkusen break swiftly, a rapid exchange of passes creating space for Brandt on the edge of the area. His shot’s blocked and the ball falls to Kampl. He seems to have overrun it, but nutmegs an Atletico defender cleverly, before seeing his shot take a deflection and spin just wide. The corner comes to nothing.
13 min: Griezmann flicks a header over at the near post from the resulting corner. Atletico are looking ominous.
12 min: Atletico go close to taking the lead twice in the space of a minute! First Griezmann combines with Saul on the left and bursts behind the Leverkusen defence, only to shoot too close to Bernd Leno. Moments later, Filipe Luis sends in a vicious cross from the left and Wendell, facing his own goal, haplessly directs an attempted clearance against the bar! He’s mightily relieved to see it go behind for a corner.
11 min: With regards to the 2015 foul count from earlier, Gloria Greppi is back. She’s done her research, which rules her out for a job at the Guardian. Anyway: “1)Juve 179 2) Bayern Munich 163 3) Leverkusen 155 4) Monaco 146 5) Atleti 140 6) Barcelona 138.”
9 min: They don’t bide their time for long. Suddenly they spring down the right and Griezmann slides a pass into acres of space for Carrasco, who skips easily past a dreadful challenge from Toprak, who sells himself like an employee of Sutton FC. Carrasco’s cutback is hacked behind for a corner, however, and that amounts to nothing much.
7 min: Leverkusen are making most of the early running here. Atletico have seen this all before, though, and they’re happy to play on the break for the time being and feel their way into this.
5 min: Leverkusen, passing the ball at a fair old pelt, have started brightly and Wendell pings a pass out to Brandt on the right. He jinks inside and threatens to shoot, only to overhit a pass to the overlapping Henrichs.
3 min: There’s a hearty atmosphere in the stadium, a relentless din falling down from the stands. Leverkusen are the underdogs here. They’ll need the crowd’s backing.
2 min: Diego Simeone, dressed like one of the goths in Malcolm in the Middle, is scowling on the touchline already.
Off we go! Bayer Leverkusen, disappointingly all in black instead of fancy dress, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. Kai Rooney Havertz, the 17-year-old prodigy in the Leverkusen side because of injuries tonight, has a jaunt down the left flank straight away, but he’s soon stopped in his tracks.
Here come the teams! Bayer Leverkusen are in black tracksuit tops, presumably because they’re hiding fancy dress underneath. Atletico Madrid are in their red and white stripes. It’s time for the Champions League anthem and a warm exchange between Roger Schmidt and Diego Simeone! When that’s out of the way, it’s time for some Champions League football!
“When these two teams played here two years ago, Saúl was kidneyed by Papadopoulos, no longer at Bayer, and had to remain in hospital in Leverkusen for almost a week,having his kidney drained, and missed several weeks of action,” says Gloria Greppi. “Though Bayer were eliminated, they were still the team committing the most fouls, in CL by a margin, even after the next round!”
Were Atletico second?
“I am at the ground as my brother is a Leverkusen season ticket holder,” says Patrick Ford. “Good atmosphere despite alcohol-freeness. He is bemoaning Leverkusen’s league position and says they are hampered by injury tonight – their second striker is a 17 year old. But Javier Hernandez has banged in four goals in two games since splitting up with his girlfriend, apparently (ending a 1200 min goal drought in the process).”
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno; Henrichs, Dragovic, Toprak, Wendell; Kampl, Aranguiz; Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt; Hernandez. Subs: Ozcan, Bailey, Mehmedi, Baumgartlinger, Jedvaj, Pohjanpalo, Volland.
Atletico Madrid: Miguel Moya; Vrsaljko, Savic, Gimenez, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi; Saul, Carrasco, Griezmann; Gameiro. Subs: Oblak, Torres, Correa, Lucas, Thomas, Gaitan, Henrique.
Referee: William Collum (Scotland)
Hello. If the players of these two teams are interested in Champions League trivia – and it’s safe to assume that professional footballers spend most of their spare time scrawling through Wikipedia and YouTube – then they’ll probably spend most of this match telling each other about how their clubs are linked by losing finals to Real Madrid. What would you give to eavesdrop on those conversations? Javier Hernandez telling Diego Godin about Bayer Leverkusen’s near miss against the Spanish giants at Hampden Park in 2002; Koke regaling Lars Benders with tales of Atletico’s heartbreak against their rich neighbours in 2014 and 2016.
Once they’ve exhausted that topic, presumably they’ll reminisce about the last time they were drawn against each other in the last 16. They won’t have to think back too far. It was only two years ago, after all, and Atletico squeezed through after a tight contest. Obviously they lost to Real in the next round, though, and Diego Simeone’s players can be forgiven for wondering if it’s ever going to happen for them in this competition, no matter how relentlessly and doggedly they continue to punch above their weight when they find themselves in the company of teams whose resources dwarf theirs.
The Spaniards, a tad inconsistent at times this season but still fourth in La Liga and winners of a group containing Bayern Munich, will be confident of winning this one, although they will remember how hard Leverkusen pushed them last time. It finished 1-1 over two legs and Atletico needed a penalty shootout at the Vicente Calderon. While Leverkusen have been a touch out of sorts recently and have players out through injury, falling to eighth in the Bundesliga, Roger Schmidt’s side have won their last two matches, impressed in the group stage with a pressing game that confounded Tottenham Hotspur and possess a number of accomplished players who could swing this tie their way. They’ll fancy their chances. Expect tension.
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