Atletico Madrid took a huge step towards the knockout stages of the Champions League with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Brugge on Wednesday.
Antoine Griezmann was the hero with a double, before Koke’s late strike put the icing on the cake. Hats off to Brugge’s Arnaut Groenveld, who scored a stunning effort to level things up at 1-1 in the first half.
Atleti march onwards and upwards after a tough start to the campaign and will be confident of all but sealing a place in the last 16 next time out against Borussia Dortmund.
A win and no repeat of last season’s Qarabag upset. Happy days all round.
Injuries to Jose Gimenez and Diego Costa. Hopefully they are not serious.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Diego Simeone started with an unfamiliar 3-5-2, which did not really work for Los Rojiblancos, however he switched to a more habitual 4-4-2 after the break and his substitutions helped get the job done.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 6 — Helpless for the goal and pretty much a spectator for the rest of the game.
DF Santiago Arias, 7 — First start for the club and while he appeared a little nervous at the beginning, he grew into things and finished strongly.
DF Jose Gimenez, 6 — Did what was needed in the first period. Subbed at the break with what appeared to be a knock.
DF Diego Godin, 7 — Solid enough on a quiet night at the back.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 7 — Started in the back three but looked far happier when central as part of a four-man defence.
MF Koke, 6 — Did not have a good game, made wrong decision after wrong decision but — and it is a big but — got the goal to finally kill off Brugge’s hopes and seal the win.
MF Saul Niguez, 6 — Started as a left wing-back in the 3-5-2 and was wretched, slicing out a couple of crosses and skewing a presentable opportunity wide. Much better when back in central midfield after the break.
MF Thomas Partey, 6 — Solid, if unspectacular in the middle of the park. Fought for everything and kept busy for the hour he was on the pitch.
MF Thomas Lemar, 7 — Was one of the few players who actually looked comfortable in the 3-5-2 as he had a free role behind the strikers. Some lovely little touches, but needs more end product.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 9 — Two brilliant finishes to earn three points for his side. Looked back to his best and assisted Koke for his side’s third. Would have had another assist when he unselfishly chose to pass instead of shooting but Angel Correa could not give it the finish it deserved.
FW Diego Costa, 7 — His never say die attitude saw him tee up Griezmann for his second, but at what cost? Left the field injured.
DF Filipe Luis, 8 — His introduction helped change the game. A constant thorn in the Belgian’s side during his 45 minutes on the pitch.
MF Angel Correa, 7 — Another who helped turn the game with his direct running. Should have scored late on.
MF Rodri, 6 — On at 2-1 for Costa to help see the game out.