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Atlético fail to find a way past Astana

Astana 0-0 Atlético
The visitors missed the chance to move three points clear at the top of Group C after being held to a goalless stalemate by the Kazakh debutants.

Highlights: Astana 0-0 Atlético
  • Atlético one point clear at top of Group C after draw in Kazakhstan
  • Visitors hit woodwork twice, once in each half
  • Diego Simeone's side six games unbeaten since matchday two loss
  • Kazakhstani newcomers bottom with two points
  • Next games: Astana v Benfica, Atlético v Galatasaray (25 November)

Atlético Madrid passed up the opportunity to climb three points clear at the top of UEFA Champions League Group C after being held to a goalless stalemate by Astana.

Despite dominating possession in Kazakhstan, the visitors were unable to find a way past the group stage debutants and struck the woodwork twice, once in each half, on a frustrating evening. Seeking a first win in the section, Astana made a bright start and caught the Liga side on the break inside six minutes. However, Dmitri Shomko shot straight at Atlético custodian Jan Oblak. The Rojiblancos responded immediately with Gabi and Tiago having efforts blocked inside the area before Juanfran failed to hit the target.

Although they suffered a 4-0 reverse against Diego Simeone's men last time out, Astana had negotiated the first half with little cause for alarm until Fernando Torres almost broke the deadlock on 32 minutes. The Atleti No9 raced onto Juanfran's pass before his outside-of-the-boot attempt bounced past the far post. It was the only opening for Torres who remains on 99 goals for his home-town club.

Resolute at the back, and in good form having won their last five Kazakh Premier League matches, the Blue and Yellows began to gain confidence with Junior Kabananga and Foxi Kéthévoama looking lively. Yet there was still time for Koke to hit the woodork with an inswinging free-kick before the interval.

©AFP/Getty Images

Level on points with Benfica before this tie, Simeone introduced Jackson Martínez for Torres and Yannick Carrasco for Saúl Ñíguez after the restart in a bid to push for victory. Antoine Griezmann, quiet throughout, almost notched the opener from distance but rattled the bar with Astana goalkeeper Nenad Erić stranded. Moments later, José María Giménez nodded straight at Erić after the hosts fail to clear a corner. Carrasco threatened a late clincher but Stanimir Stoilov's team held on to claim a second point.

Stanimir Stoilov, Astana coach
I think today our team left everything on the field. Super concentration, efficiency and selflessness, that's what helped us get this result. We gave everything and we were not afraid of the opposition. The boys fought hard and they deserved this point – it is not just our point, it is for the whole of Kazakhstani football.

Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
It was an interesting game. We were ready for such a response from Astana after last time. They had prepared really well and did a good job with great support from their fans. We didn't get the right result but we are looking to the future and we will carry on working hard.

©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images

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