A drab first half was followed by a thrilling second as Atletico Madrid came from behind to draw 2-2 against visitors Juventus in the Champions League.
Juan Cuadrado’s stunning strike three minutes into the second period broke the deadlock, before Blaise Matuidi headed home an Alex Sandro cross in the 65th minute.
However, Stefan Savic pulled one back five minutes later and Hector Herrera met a Kieran Trippier corner in the final minute to secure a draw for the hosts.
JUAN MOMENT OF BRILLIANCE
Cuadrado’s presence in the starting XI would’ve drawn groans from some Juventus fans, especially since it came at the expense of more dynamic options like Federico Bernardeschi or Paulo Dybala, and not Danilo at right-back who was initially an injury doubt.
The intention was clear. The Wanda Metropolitano is a difficult place to go to and Cuadrado’s industry would lend the attack-minded Danilo support on the right flank when defending against Thomas Lemar and Renan Lodi.
The 31-year-old did his job well, tracking back winning possession on numerous occasions. But his spectacular strike early in the second half was his greatest contribution.
Having been picked out well by Gonzalo Higuain, squared up Lodi, cut inside onto his weaker side and curled his effort past a hapless Jan Oblak.
His strike breathed life into what was a dull affair up until then and forced Atletico to open up in an effort to respond.
TWO POINTS DROPPED
This wasn’t an entirely convincing display from Juventus.
The Bianconeri looks like a side that’s still coming together. At the moment, they find themselves somewhere between embracing Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy and adjusting it in order to extract the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo.
It’s a tricky balancing act and a dangerous one against top opposition. Juve’s left side of defence was regularly left exposed with Ronaldo seemingly excused from attempting any sort of defensive action.
The back four shuffled across to try and cover the space but that meant the marauding Lodi on the opposite flank was afforded to room to drive into as well.
Fortunately for Juventus, Atletico never fully capitalised on this glaring weakness in the first half despite being on top. Together, Trippier and Lodi whipped in a total of 17 crosses and the Englishman finished with seven key passes but the forwards were unable to muster enough efforts on goal.
The home side eventually drew level, first pulling one back from a well-worked free-kick before a late corner was nodded in from Herrera. But three points were up for grabs and Diego Simeone will rue his side’s lack of aggression in the opening 45 minutes when they should’ve made Juve pay.
ATLETI SURVIVE RONALDO
Credit where it’s due, Trippier contained Ronaldo reasonably well without really being sucked into one-on-one battles.
He ushered the Portuguese away from threatening positions and must’ve been a huge relief for Simeone.
The former Real Madrid talisman has been the scourge of Atleti over the years, registering 25 goals and 13 assists in 33 games against an uncompromising unit that prides itself on defensive solidity.
He’s also bagged four hat-tricks against Los Rojiblancos, including one last season which knocked them out of the Champions League – the fifth time he was involved in their elimination from Europe [including two triumphs over them in the finals].
Despite restricting him all game, Simeone must’ve had a familiar sinking feeling for a fleeting moment at the death. Deep into injury time, Ronaldo produced a bit of magic.
Jinking his way inside from the touchline, he worked an opening inside the box and his fierce low drive fizzed just wide of the far post.
Close. But Atleti survived.
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