NEWS
Wednesday February 20 2019
CL: Juventus annihilated by Atletico

Juventus were twice rescued by VAR, but the 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

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The Bianconeri went all out attack with Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Douglas Costa was injured and Sami Khedira ruled out for a month following heart surgery. Atleti missed Lucas Hernandez at left-back, but ex-Juventus striker Alvaro Morata was benched in favour of Diego Costa.

These sides had met only twice before in the Champions League 2014-15 group stage, Juve losing 1-0 in Madrid to an Arda Turan strike and drawing 0-0 in Turin.

Within 45 seconds the Atleti players were already crowding around the referee asking for a penalty, but Blaise Matuidi’s high foot caught Antoine Griezmann after he had already spun and kicked the ball off target.

Diego Costa was booked for shoving Leonardo Bonucci in the defensive wall and will be suspended for the second leg in Turin. From that free kick, Ronaldo’s ferocious effort was dipping under the bar, palmed over acrobatically by Jan Oblak.

Bonucci turned a free header over the bar from a corner and Thomas Partey’s snapshot was straight at Wojciech Szczesny.

The referee had awarded a penalty for the hosts when Mattia De Sciglio slipped and caught Diego Costa’s ankle, but the VAR booth confirmed the contact – which was soft at best – was outside the box. Szczesny then palmed that resulting Griezmann free kick out of the near top corner.

Paulo Dybala’s strike from distance was easily blocked by Oblak, but Thomas Partey was booked for taking down La Joya and he too will be suspended for the second leg.

Diego Costa wasted a huge opportunity on 50 minutes when sent clear by Griezmann, as Bonucci did just enough to put him off and the striker fired wide with Szczesny going the wrong way.

Szczesny flew to fingertip a remarkable Griezmann lob on to the crossbar and Chiellini hoofed the rebound clear. Alex Sandro went into the book and will be suspended for the second leg.

Alvaro Morata replaced Costa to face his former club, as Atleti made all three changes in the space of 10 minutes. It almost worked, as Morata nodded in a Filipe Luis cross from the left, but the referee went to view VAR footage and ruled the striker had pushed his old teammate Chiellini in the back.

Atleti finally managed to break through when a clearance from a corner bounced off the prone Bonucci, who was down after the tiniest contact to the face from Jose Maria Gimenez, and Gimenez pounced on the loose ball from close range. There were more complaints, but this time there was no rescue from VAR.

Another set play and bad defending made it 2-0, as the free kick was intercepted by Mandzukic in the six-yard box, but the clearance only went as far as Diego Godin to score from a tight angle.

Juve tried to fight back and at least get an away goal, but Ronaldo pulled back a free kick to the edge of the box for the ferocious Federico Bernardeschi strike that Oblak flew to fingertip out from under the bar.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Juventus

Gimenez 79 (A), Godin 83 (A)

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Filipe Luis; Saul Niguez, Thomas (Lemar 61), Rodri, Koke (Angel Correa 67); Diego Costa (Morata 57), Griezmann

Juventus: Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic (Emre Can 72), Matuidi (Cancelo 84); Dybala, Mandzukic, Ronaldo

Ref: Zwayer (GER)