Atletico Madrid 1-2 Chelsea – Match Report
Chelsea traveled to the brand new Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Wednesday evening to face their biggest group stage oppositions – Atletico Madrid.
The Blues entered the match as clear underdogs, but were able to beat the odds as they claimed the full three points in a huge comeback win. Antoine Griezmann put the hosts up from the penalty spot, but Chelsea climbed the highest on the second half as strikers Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi made no mistake in front of the net.
The visitors started the game very strongly in the warm Spanish evening. Eden Hazard, who is finally fully fit following his summer-long ankle injury, lifted the spirit to the roof by hitting the post with a thunderous long-range effort after 15 minutes of play. Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak didn’t have time to react to the shot, but was called into action later on as Morata hit the target with a solid header.
Chelsea were well ahead in possession stats after 35 minutes, until Atletico got their first real chance of the game and thus found their way back into the game. Spanish full-back Juanfran broke free on the right and snapped a sweet cross for Griezmann, who almost got his head on the ball, only to be denied by Thibaut Courtois’ brave interception.
The Blues seemed strong at the back, but David Luiz couldn’t handle the pressure. The Brazilian centre-back cost Chelsea a goal with a huge mistake as he pulled Lucas Hernandez down blatantly in the area and awarded the hosts a cheap penalty. Griezmann did no mistake to bury the spot-kick, scoring the first Champions League goal on Atletico Madrid’s new stadium.
Griezmann’s penalty lifted the hosts’ confidence hugely for the final five minutes of the half, and Chelsea got lucky not to concede another one before the break; Courtois parried Koke’s long shot straight in front of him to the edge of the area, where unmarked Saul Niguez was unlucky to shoot wide from.
The score stayed at 1-0 after one additional minute, and Chelsea had a big red-blue colored mountain to climb on the second half.
Chelsea were the first team to enter the pitch after the break and looked much better in the first minutes of the second half compared to Atletico. The Blues’ confidence on the ball quickly paid off, as Morata found the equalizer after an hour of play.
Hazard was found free on the left hand side, where the Belgian was able to curl a sublime cross into the box. The ball was met by Morata’s precious head, guiding the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. It was Morata’s seventh goal in his seventh game, as he also opens the account in the European Elite competition.
Chelsea weren’t too far away from a second either. Hazard laid a smart back-pass for Cesc Fabregas inside the Atletico box, but the ex-Barcelona man was unable to find his footing and directed the ball wide with his left from just five yards away. It could’ve been a game-winning goal, but Chelsea had to wait for that all the way until the very last minute of the match.
Atletico Madrid brought on Fernando Torres following the equalizer, hoping to get back in front through the fan-favouite Spaniard. Antonio Conte, however, didn’t make his first change until the 81th minute, when Diego Simeone had already made all of his three substitutions.
Morata and Hazard, who were the most crucial players in the Blues’ attacking end, were the first to be brought off. The two are certainly in need of rest ahead of Saturday’s huge fixture against Manchester City, and were thus replaced by Willian and Batshuayi.
With the game looking to be set and matched in a 1-1 score, Conte also decided to give Fabregas a rest, replacing him with Andreas Christensen.
The game entered the three additional minutes and suddenly Chelsea saw a chance to take the full three points home. David Luiz was fould long way from the goal, so Willian was smart to play the free-kick short and get the whole team involved in front of the hosts’ penalty area. Quick one-twos between N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Marcos Alonso saw the latter unmarked on the right hand of the area, where the Spaniard was able to feed Batshuayi for a simple tap-in goal right in front of the net.
Oblak was beaten for the second time coming, and the Blues fans went completely crazy! Chelsea had turned the whole game around in an emphatic comeback victory, making a huge statement to the rest of Europe’s Elite about the team’s quality.
The game ended right after Batshuayi had bagged his fifth goal of the season. Chelsea are now at the top of the Group C with six points and will face AS Roma next, in three weeks’ time. COME ON CHELSEA!