Karim Bellarabi continued his good goal-scoring form as he helped keep Bayer Leverkusen's UEFA Champions League hopes alive despite defeat at home to Atlético Madrid.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Atletico Madrid
Goals: 0-1Saul (17'), 0-2 Griezmann (25'), 1-2 Bellarabi (48'), 1-3 Gameiro (59'), 2-3 Savic OG (68'), 2-4 Torres (86')
Leverkusen started well in the opening minutes as they probed down the right wing, but Atlético quickly found their feet in the game and began to test keeper Bernd Leno and the Bayer defence, including a double chance, which Wendell could only clear onto his own crossbar. The home side looked to respond immediately but Julian Brandt and Kevin Kampl were both denied inside the Atlético box. It wasn’t long, though, until Los Rojiblancos broke the deadlock with a near curling effort from Saúl. Ten minutes later and Atlético doubled their lead through Antoine Griezmann as the visitors capitalised on a mistake by defender Aleksandar Dragovic. The duo of Brandt and Kampl again tried to bring Bayer back into the game but Atlético held onto their lead for half-time.
Man of the Match
Leverkusen had exactly what the doctor ordered after the break and quickly reduced the deficit through the scorer of the Bundesliga’s 50,000th goal at the weekend: Karim Bellarabi. The Germany international superbly tucked away Benjamin Henrichs’ cross from the right. Atlético continued to threaten and restored their two-goal advantage through Kevin Gameiro’s penalty after he was brought down by Dragovic. However, the action was far from over when Stefan Savic turned into his own net following good work by Brandt down the left. Leverkusen continued to push for an equaliser and even had an effort by Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez cleared off the line during a period of intense Bayer pressure, but Atlético’s Fernando Torres once more restored the advantage minutes from the end.
Kevin Kampl was a positive for Leverkusen on a disappointing European night. The midfielder had five attempts on goal as he tried to drive his team back into the tie. The Slovenia international also completed 87 per cent of his 62 passes in his attempt to push Bayer forward.
Bayer have scored more than one goal against Los Rojiblancos for the first time in five meetings, but they have a tough task to turn this tie around heading to Madrid, where the Spaniards have conceded just once in this season's Champions League.
- Leverkusen had 59 per cent of the possession but only managed three shots on target to Atletico's seven.Bellarabi has scored in back-to-back games for the first time since April 2016.Chicharito had five efforts on goal, including one cleared off the line by Felipe Luis.
Leverkusen: Leno - Henrichs, Toprak (c), Dragovic, Wendell - Aranguiz, Kampl – Bellarabi (Pohjanpalo 66’), Brandt (Bailey 87’) – Havertz (Volland 56’) – Chicharito
Coach: Roger Schmidt
Atletico: Moya - Vrsaljko, Savic, Gimenez, Filipe Luis - Saul, Gabi (c), Koke, Ferreira-Carrasco (Torres 78') - Gameiro (Partey 71'), Griezmann (Correa 78')
Coach: Diego Simeone