Champions League last 16 first leg, BayArena – Bayer Leverkusen 2 (Bellarabi 48, Savic o.g. 68) Atletico Madrid 4 (Niguez 17, Griezmann 25, Gameiro 59, Torres 86)
Antoine Griezmann scored his 17th goal of the season as Atletico Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in a thrilling last-16 first leg tie.
Diego Simeone’s side looked to be cruising after scoring two first-half goals with Saul Niguez netting with a spectacular strike before Griezman finished superbly.
The German side improved after the break and reduced their deficit through Karim Bellarabi, but conceded again minutes later through a controversial penalty by the impressive Kevin Gameiro.
Roger Schmidt’s side got back in the game courtesy of an own goal from Stefan Savic before the visitors delivered another suckerpunch from substitute Fernando Torres.
Felipe Luis was booked late on and will miss the second leg on March 15th through suspension, but Leverkusen have a mountain to climb to make it to the last eight.
Do Leverkusen have a right to be aggrieved at the referee? Roger Schmidt’s side certainly should have been awarded a penalty in the first half when Gabi appeared to lead with his arm when jumping in the box.
And the coach’s mood would have been soured further when Aleksandar Dragovic was deemed to have dragged Gameiro in the box with replays showing the foul took place at least a yard outside the area.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin Gameiro (Atletico): He may have not been a regular since his big-money move from Sevilla in the summer, but the Frenchman is on a hot streak. The striker followed up his hat-trick on Saturday with a devastating display, tearing the German defence to shreds with his pace and link-up play with compatriot Griezmann.
LEVERKUSEN: Leno 5, Wendell 5, Toprak 4, Dragovic 4, Henrichs 6, Kampl 7, Araguiz 5, Bellarabi 7, Brandt 6, Chicharito 5, Havertz 4. Subs: Volland 5, Pohjanpalo 5, Bailey 5.
ATLETICO: Moya 5, Vrsaljko 7, Savic 5, Gimenez 6, Luis 6, Gabi 6, Niguez 8, Koke 6, Carrasco 5, Griezmann 8, Gameiro 9. Subs: Partey 5, Torres 5, Correa 5.
12’ – WOODWORK! The ball comes out to Luis who fires in a call across the box which Wendell makes a mess of and his clearance hits the crossbar!
17’ – GOAL! Leverkusen 0-1 Atletico: Tremendous strike from Saul from a tight angle, curling the ball into the top corner.
25’ – GOAL! Leverkusen 0-2 Atletico: Dragovic gifts possession to Gameiro with a poor clearance, the Frenchman sprints into the area then tees up Greizmann who lashes the ball into the net from close range.
34’ – GREAT SAVE! Gameiro’s pace has Leverkusen again in knots after running onto a ball over the top, he slides it into the area for Griezmann whose low effort is blocked by Leno and goes over the bar.
48’ – GOAL! Leverkusen 1-2 Atletico: Kampl finds Henrichs on the wing, he fires in a low cross and Bellarabi directs the ball into the corner.
50’ – CROSSBAR! Atletico break, Koke threads the ball through to Gameiro who strikes the top of the bar with a drive from inside the area.
59’ – PENALTY! Leverkusen 1-3 Atletico: The scintillating Gameiro drives his spot-kick down the centre to make it 3-1!
68’ GOAL! Leverkusen 2-3 Atletico: Brandt’s cross is only parried by Moya and it hits Savic’s knee and bobbles in.
86’ – GOAL! Leverkusen 2-4 Atletico: A sucker-punch for Leverkusen as Vrsaljko crosses for an unmarked Torres to head into the net.
Atletico conceded more against Leverkusen than they did in the entire group stages.
Antoine Griezmann has become the Atletico all-time top scorer in Champions League with 13 goals, surpassing Luis Aragones on 12.
All seven of Kevin Gameiro’s assists for Atletico have been for Antoine Griezmann (all competitions)