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Champions League: Atletico Held By Astana

Champions League trophyA disappointing night for Atletico Madrid in Kazakhstan on Tuesday as they were held to a scoreless draw by Astana. That resulted, combined with Benfica’s 2-1 win over Galatasaray means that Diego Simeone’s side fall to second place on their group, denting the Spaniards’ hopes of finishing top of Group C.

This was a game where Atlético rarely looked comfortable out on the Kazakhstani side’s artificial pitch and created very few chances all game.

In the first half the two best chances fell to Fernando Torres and Koke. First, the home defence gifted the ball to Torres, who failed to make the most of his sight of goal and fired wide. Then, just before the break, Koke’s free-kick clattered off the woodwork.

Towards the end of the 90 minutes, Simeone’s troops laid siege to the opposition’s area as Astana battled to clear the ball. However, there was to be no last-minute winner for the visitors, with Yannick Ferreira Carrasco spurning a great chance in time added on.

No wonder that Simeone was not happy with his side’s performance saying:

“I wasn’t surprised by the game. I said ahead of the match that it was going to be a hard, difficult fixture and it was. It was tough, but I don’t blame the team”, said the Argentine.

“Their lads [Astana] play hard here. They’re strong and play a quick game. We carved out three or four good goalscoring chances which we failed to put away. But no blame. The team worked hard, looked strong and in defence we’re still limiting the opposition’s goalscoring chances”, he said.

However, the Argentine coach was somewhat critical of his team’s attacking display.

“We obviously have to be better going forward. We need to be surer of ourselves in the final third. I told the lads the same, that we’re doing well and that whoever loses their nerve, loses the game”, he went on.

“After losing at home to Benfica we knew that we might face an uphill struggle to qualify for the knockout stages. We’ll have to put in a good game against Galatasaray and try to take all three points”, Simeone concluded.