Atletico grind out first leg stalemate in Eindhoven

Date published: Wednesday 24th February 2016 9:42

Diego Simeone: Watched Atletico grind out draw

Diego Simeone: Watched Atletico grind out draw

Atletico Madrid ground out a disciplined 0-0 draw at PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, although they probably thought they should have won it. 

The La Liga side had by far the best of the encounter and PSV spent a quarter of the game with ten men following the second half dismissal of Gaston Pereiro for a second bookable offence.

However, Atletico will still consider themselves strong favourites to progress.

PSV were a surprise last-16 package after knocking out Manchester United at the competition’s group stages.

But Atleti predictably proved a far tougher nut to crack, with Diego Simeone’s 2014 finalists having forged a reputation as one of the best defensive units in Europe.

Atleti had conceded only three goals in six games in winning their Champions League group and goalkeeper Jan Oblak had just one save to make in keeping yet another clean sheet for the Spaniards.

The visitors should have been ahead inside four minutes when PSV were caught out by Gabi’s long ball over the top.

Luciano Vietto raced on to it and lifted the ball over Jeroen Zoet in the PSV goal but Jeffrey Bruma got back on the line to clear.

PSV wanted a penalty when Jurgen Locadia tumbled under Gabi’s challenge on the edge of the area, but it would have been a generous decision and the home crowd were further frustrated by Atletico’s defensive blanket.

Atletico always had bodies back to smother PSV attacks and their swift counter-raids were proving dangerous.

Koke latched on to another ball over the top to send a shot straight at Zoet but an even better opportunity arrived on the half-hour mark.

PSV’s ragged defensive line was pierced by Koke’s pass and Antoine Griezmann scampered through with only Zoet to beat.

But the goalkeeper stood tall and saved with his left hand, denying Griezmann his 20th goal of the season.

PSV’s best chance of the first half came two minutes later when Pereiro and Davy Propper combined to find space in a congested penalty area.

Propper’s close-range effort was pushed out by Oblak and the Atletico wall was soon back in place to block efforts from Locadia and Jetro Willems.

Koke did provide Atleti with a moment of rare anxiety when he slid Willems’ cross past his own post, but the Primera Division side began to exert their authority in the final half-hour.

Godin saw his header from a corner disallowed after taking a ride on Hector Moreno’s back and Zoet pushed out Gabi’s drive from distance following Pereiro’s red card.

Atleti sent on Fernando Torres and Angel Correa in a bid to find a winner, but PSV held firm and also created a late chance when Maxime Lestienne volleyed over.

Huge roars greeted the final whistle and PSV will feel they are capable of causing an upset at the Vicente Calderon in the March 15 return.

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