Categories: FootballSports

Atletico Beat Dortmund In Champions League Quarter-final First Leg

 

Atletico Madrid earned a 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, surviving a late onslaught from the visitors.

Rodrigo De Paul and Samuel Lino’s first-half goals gave Diego Simeone’s side a commanding lead but Sebastien Haller pulled one back to give the German side a foothold in the tie ahead of next week’s return in Dortmund.

Edin Terzic’s side, fifth in the Bundesliga, improved greatly after a slow start and hit the woodwork twice in the final stages of a match which saw security measures reinforced after the Islamic State (IS) group made threats against stadiums used for last-eight ties.

Atletico Madrid had flown out of the traps, keen to grasp a golden opportunity to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2017.

Dortmund could not cope with the Rojiblancos’ high press and De Paul fired the hosts ahead after Ian Maatsen gave the ball away.

Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel passed the ball to the on-loan Chelsea defender, who panicked under pressure and played a slack pass which De Paul gleefully intercepted.

The Argentina international finished calmly to amp up the already loud Metropolitano stadium crowd.

Atletico have not lost any of their home Champions League knock-out games during Simeone’s 12 years at the helm and continued to flood forward confidently.

Kobel clawed away a brilliant backheel flick by former Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, a key part of Atletico’s back-line after his move in 2022.

The only negative note from a fine Atletico first half was a booking Lino earned, ruling him out for the second leg.

A few minutes later the Brazilian doubled his team’s lead after another Dortmund defensive mix-up.

Mats Hummels, on his 500th appearance for Dortmund, badly directed a header into Alvaro Morata’s path and he and Antoine Griezmann combined to feed Lino, who slid a low effort past Kobel.

Dortmund carved out their first opening after 35 minutes but Witsel dived in to deflect Karim Adeyemi’s shot on to the roof of Jan Oblak’s net.

The Slovenian goalkeeper kept out efforts from loanee Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho and Maatsen before the break.

Terzic brought on Julian Brandt for Felix Nmecha at half-time in search of more attacking spark.

Missing sick top goalscorer Donyell Malen the Bundesliga side struggled to find a way past Oblak, who saved from Niclas Fuellkrug early in a far tighter second half.

Kobel made a stunning save to deny Lino his second goal from point-blank range and Dortmund swiftly capitalised on it through substitute Haller.

Nahuel Molina made poor contact on a clearance and the ball fell to the towering striker who drove it beyond Oblak.

Despite the visitors finding a foothold in the game, Atletico held on by the skin of their teeth and Dortmund fell to their first away defeat in four months.

Hummels made up for his earlier error with a fine challenge to dispossess Angel Correa as he ran in on goal before Dortmund twice came close to an equaliser.

English winger Jamie Bynoe-Gittens’s long-range drive deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta’s head and hit the crossbar.

Brandt also nodded against the frame of the goal in stoppage time in a frantic finale.

Simeone was able to celebrate his 50th Champions League victory as a coach, becoming the ninth man to achieve the feat.

One neither Simeone or Atletico have yet achieved is conquering the Champions League, but this win is a shaky step towards the semi-finals.

Tom Jones Usen

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Tom Jones Usen

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