Antoine Griezmann kept Atletico Madrid's slight hopes of Champions League qualification alive with a sensational scissor-kick volley and a sublime assist to down 10-man Roma 2-0 on Wednesday.
The Atleti talisman had not scored in his last eight matches in all competitions, but broke the deadlock in style at the Wanda Metropolitano to keep Atletico in the competition.
Substitute Angel Correa performed miracles to keep the ball in at the byline, his cross hung up for Griezmann to launch himself into an unstoppable flying volley.
Roma, who headed to the Spanish capital on the back of six straight wins in all competitions, knew a draw would send them through to the knockout rounds and set up cautiously as a result.
It was therefore always likely to require something brilliant to break Roma down and Griezmann's magical impact provided the spark Atleti needed, the striker then sliding Kevin Gameiro through to double the lead after defender Bruno Peres saw red.
Atletico have to win at already qualified Chelsea on matchday six to have any hope of qualifying, with Roma still in pole position ahead of their clash with Group C whipping boys Qarabag.
Fernando Torres, making his first Champions League start of the season, had an early chance to break clear of the Roma defence but got the ball stuck under his feet, then Yannick Carrasco made a fine block to deny Lorenzo Pellegrini in a high-tempo opening.
With Roma content to sit deep and play on the break, Carrasco rippled the side netting after 19 minutes before Koke headed a Filipe Luis cross straight at goalkeeper Alisson.
Carrasco's low left-wing centre somehow eluded both Griezmann and Torres in the box and the out-of-form France forward fired wide from 25 yards after bursting through the Roma midfield.
Atletico had the ball in the net after 40 minutes, Augusto's 25-yard drive deflecting in, but the midfielder controlled the ball with his arm and referee Bjorn Kuipers had already blown for a foul.
Diego Simeone sent for Correa and Gabi early in the second half, with the Liga side seeking a goal to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.
Roma were yet to record a shot on target but almost took the lead in freak circumstances after 63 minutes, a mishit cross from Radja Nainggolan crashing back off the post with Jan Oblak beaten.
Atleti finally carved out a clear sight of goal for Torres but the striker dragged his shot wide, with the hosts increasingly desperate to break the deadlock.
But when the goal finally arrived after 69 minutes, it proved to be well worth the wait.
Correa's energy from the bench proved key as the forward kept the ball in acrobatically at the byline, hanging up a cross that found Griezmann in a pocket of space in the box.
Griezmann could have brought the ball down and fired at goal but instead showed a confidence that belied his recent complete lack of form, throwing himself into a tremendous acrobatic strike that flashed past Alisson before the Roma goalkeeper could move.
And after Peres was dismissed, the Roma man receiving his second yellow card for a rash foul on Filipe Luis, Griezmann and Gameiro combined in stunning fashion, the former sending his compatriot clear to beat Alisson from a tight angle to give Atleti their first European win at their new home, and a glimmer of hope they can make the last 16.
Key Opta stats:
- Atletico Madrid are unbeaten against Italian opposition in Champions League (W4 D2).
- Atletico have only suffered two defeats in their last 25 home games in the Champions League (W19 D5); recording 19 clean sheets across those fixtures.
- 11 of the last 16 Champions League goals scored by Atletico have seen the direct involvement of Antoine Griezmann (8 scored and 3 assists).
- Griezmann has scored and assisted in the same game for first time in all competitions this season.
- Angel Correa has provided his first assist in the Champions League after 19 matches in the competition.
- Kevin Gameiro has scored a goal every 185 minutes this season in all competitions (two goals in nine games), the best average of all Atletico players.
- Roma have only managed two shots on target in the two matches against Atletico in this Champions League (7, 3 shots on target per game in the other three matches of the group stage).
- Roma have only accrued one win across their last 12 Champions League matches they played away from home (D5 L6) and have not kept an away clean sheet in the competition in their last 24 attempts; last doing so in March 2007 against Lyon (2-0).
21 de marzo 2018
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