Atlético 2-0 Galatasaray
Antoine Griezmann scored a goal in each half as Atlético made sure of progress from Group C, leaving their opponents to play for third place.
Article top media content
- Win against Galatasaray means Atlético Madrid and Benfica progress from Group C
- Antoine Griezmann heads Atlético into early lead (13)
- French international clinches points from close range (65)
- Atlético will contest first place with Benfica; Galatasaray play off with Astana for UEFA Europa League
- Final Group C games: Galatasaray v Astana, Benfica v Atlético (8 December)
Two Antoine Griezmann goals maintained Atlético Madrid's impressive home record in Europe and sealed a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 with a Group C game to spare.
Despite knowing a draw would secure qualification, Diego Simeone's side left nothing to chance as they dictated possession from the off. Irrespective of their dominance, the Rojiblancos' initial momentum was almost cut short as former Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder fired narrowly wide on ten minutes – yet that was as good as it got for the visitors and Atlético were soon in front.
When skipper Gabi won the ball in Galatasaray's half and floated a cross into Griezmann's path, the resulting header was unerring. The Frenchman then forced Fernando Muslera into action from distance as the Colchoneros sought to extend their lead, something they were unable to do before the break.
With Atleti's pursuit of a second goal continuing straight from the restart, Yannick Carrasco was thwarted by Muslera and the visiting goalkeeper also showed excellent reflexes to keep out a close-range Koke volley.
There was little the Uruguayan could do 20 minutes into the second period, though, as Gabi once again fed Griezmann, who found the back of the net from close range to ensure his team will meet Benfica to decide first place on matchday six.
Key player: Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann has enjoyed facing the Turkish champions. After netting twice in Istanbul on matchday one, he repeated the trick this evening. A menace all game, the 24-year-old France forward showed that despite being one of the smallest men on the pitch he possesses a terrific leap as he powered in Gabi's 13th-minute centre. He later doubled the dose with his fourth of this UEFA Champions League campaign – all against Galatasaray.
Koke back in business
Koke has not had the best of starts to the campaign, struggling for form and fitness, but his recent displays will have given Simeone encouragement. Following his match-winning turn against Real Betis at the weekend, the 23-year-old impressed again with an eye-catching performance in central midfield and was unlucky not to score as Muslera twice denied him in the second period.
Gabi leads by example
As he does every week, Atlético captain Gabi put in a shift in the middle of the park, covering every blade of grass. The 32-year-old never gave Galatasaray a moment's peace, constantly pressing high up the pitch to regain possession. He set the bar early by stealing the ball 30 metres from goal; then he supplied Griezmann for the opener before showing quick feet to tee up the second.
Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
We played well. In the first half we didn't create the chances our possession demanded, but in the second period we had the ball and created opportunities. I'm happy for the club because it's a step forward. Finishing top is always better than coming second, but that doesn't guarantee you anything as all sides in the last 16 are competitive.
Cláudio Taffarel, interim Galatasaray coach
There's no need to write about our demise just yet. Galatasaray have quality players but we made the game difficult for ourselves. Our opponents outran and outfought us. We needed to react in kind. If you want to achieve something in the Champions League, you need to increase your tempo and prepare yourself physically and mentally.