With everything against it, with a first half that did not invite hope, Atlético ended up signing a fierce and epic night in Porto. Two expulsions, first that of Carrasco and soon that of Wendell, and the subsequent macarronic battles between the benches marked the high temperature at which the game was played. Simeone’s careers celebrating the goals of Griezmann, Correa and De Paul and their integration into the circle made by their players when the referee signaled the end of the match described the relief of the Argentine coach for qualifying for the second round after, in addition, from 1- 2 for Liverpool at San Siro against Milan. Champion of the saying “you always have to believe”, Simeone has managed to say in the case of his Atlético: “You always have to believe, even if you play badly”. Because until Griezmann scored, Atlético was out due to football and a lack of ambition.
Diogo Costa, Zaidu Sanusi (Wendell, min. 62), Pepe, Mbemba, Joao Mario (Sergio Oliveira, min. 80), Marko Grujic (Jesús Corona, min. 80), Otavinho (Fabio Daniel Vieira, min. 81), Luis Díaz, Vitor Ferreira, Mehdi Taremi (Toni Martínez, min. 81) and Evanilson
Oblak, Vrsaljko, Kondogbia, Mario Hermoso, De Paul, Marcos Llorente, Koke, Carrasco, Lemar (Correa, min. 65), Griezmann and Luis Suárez (Matheus Cunha, min. 12)
Goals 0-1 min. 55: Griezmann. 0-2 min. 89: Correa. 0-3 min. 91: De Paul. 1-3 min. 95: Sergio Oliveira.
Referee Clement Turpin
Yellow cards Mehdi Taremi (min.31), Correa (min.66), Otavinho (min.67) y Pepe (min.68)
Red cards Carrasco (min. 66), Wendell (min. 69) and Marchesín (min. 74)
Simeone chose an elastic eleven that would allow him to change his coat, playing with the option of Vrsaljko as a winger or as a third center-back to give Marcos Llorente’s legs and lungs to the center of the field or to the defense as the match progressed. From the start, the Spanish international took care of the lane. The Kondogbia patch in the center of the rear was sung before the losses of Savic, Giménez and Felipe. With that fur, Atlético dispatched an infamous first half for what the appointment demanded, to win with the greatest possible goal difference. Heartbroken, the trembling in his footballers’ boots was described by losses in bulk. The same happened to Porto, devoted to what Luis Díaz invented on the left side. There was more whiplash than finesse in the field. A lot of shock, a lot of voltage and a lot of stiff leg. The high rhythm took its toll on the muscles of Luis Suárez, who had to be replaced by Cunha at 13 minutes.
An adventure by Carrasco setting up three defenders to win the baseline was the only action that lived up to Atlético’s needs. The center behind the Belgian touched him with the Lemar spur, Griezmann lacked half a finger to reach the clearance and the Portuguese goal covered Marcos Llorente’s corner attempt. That was the last offensive notch for Simeone’s team. From there he sank in his field, subdued by direct play and the greater fervor of the Porto footballers to scrape the second plays.
Owned by the game, Sergio Conceiçao’s team met Jan Oblak, ready to keep his team’s hopes up. His first saving stop was a point-blank shot from Evanilson. Llorente prevented Taremi from clinching over the goal line by stretching like a rubber man. Milan had already scored at the San Siro and Atlético did not seem to know. Grujic, to whom the athletic defense opened an incomprehensible corridor, fired at Oblak’s body from the front of the area when his flanks were free. Not even Liverpool’s draw, cheered by the noisy goalkeeper fans, spurred Simeone’s footballers. Atlético went to the intermission alive and that was enough for what they had suffered and how little they had shown.
Emboldened, Porto started even more brave in the second half. He came out ready to certify the classification, but was again faced with the poor aim of Taremi, who shot high a frank shot in the vertex of the small area of Oblak. The Slovenian soon took away the Iranian’s attempt to beat him with a changed pace. Oblak’s right leg prevented the goal in an action more typical of a futsal goalkeeper. Porto’s courage began to be undermined with a Marcos Llorente career and a center that Griezmann did not manage well. A good right-to-left combination, streamlined by Koke and Carrasco, ended in a corner kick on the opposite side. Lemar gloved it, Taremi combed it badly and the ball fell to Griezmann, only at the far post. The French and Atlético met with a goal that gave way to fights.
Carrasco lost his nerve with Otavio on a ball that had gone out of bounds. The Belgian responded to the shoves by grabbing his contender one meter from the referee, Frenchman Turpin, by the head. He showed the red card to Carrasco immediately. Atlético had to suffer, condemned to play at an inferior level. Until Cunha pulled his canchera wisdom by exaggerating an alleged elbow from Wendell next to the rojiblanco bench. Turpin also showed the naive Porto player the red. The noise, the pushing and the macarronic airs uncovered the high tension that was being experienced.
Ten against ten, Atlético was already better. He executed Porto with two book cons. The first was executed by Correa and the second finished one meter from the goal line by De Paul. The penalty that Sergio Oliveira transformed closed the game and certified the rojiblancos’ classification.
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