UEFA CL: Morata's header PUSH Atletico Ahead; Atletico Madrid 1 - 0 Bayer Leverkusen
Atlético have lost just one of the last 24 European games in their own stadium (W19 D4
It took a 78-minute strike from Alvaro Morata to separate Atletico Madrid from Bayer Leverkusen in the third fixture of the UEFA Champions League. The win means Diego Simeone's side now occupies the top of Group D leaving Bayer without a point.
It was a much-improved performance from Leverkusen compared to the games against Juventus and Lokomotiv Moskva, but given the result, it was hard to draw real positives from their game play.
Leverkusen tested the waters by pushing high up the pitch, but the home team easily repelled their advances.
An early blow befell the home team as Giménez made the universal sign language for ‘I need to be substituted’ in the 15-minute. Giménez picked up a knock in an innocuous enough looking challenge by his corner flag as Hermoso took his place.
Bayer started to win possession is some promising positions, but needed to add a clinical edge to their play in the final third. They gave Atletico a fighting chance which was enough for the Spanish side as at the 30-minute.
Leverkusen stayed true to their philosophy in additional time and threatened the home side yet a bit quickness with their first touches and crisper with their passes could have posed a much greater threat to Atlético.
Leverkusen took a much more measured approach to the start of the second half. They happily conserved energy to pounce when the chance presented itself. Simeone’s side begun building up a head of steam and Trippier so nearly unlocked the Leverkusen defence with a trademark cross that Diego Costa, just five metres out, misjudged.
Morata was introduced in the 70-minute for Koke which meant a switch to 4-4-2 for Atletico.
Lemar was out left, Saúl on the right and Morata and Costa up top. Leverkusen kept creating chances to punish Atlético, but the pass that could pose the most threat was wayward which led to the danger evaporating.
Finally, the substitute, Alvaro Morata gave the home side the lead 12-minutes to full time. Renan Lodi who was impressive all night and proved that Trippier wasn’t the only full-back who could swing in a cross with a peach that zeroes in on Morata's head. Hradecky got a touch but could not keep it out.
There was so much promise with no end product for Leverkusen as they struggled to pick the leveler. After four minutes of additional time, the game ended in favor of Atletico Madrid. They occupy the top of the table with as Juventus take on Locomotiv Moscow later.