The Champions League last 16 fixture pitting Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and Italian heavy weights Juventus may be the most dramatic match yet.
A rip-roaring second-half display that ranks with any from Diego Simeone’s eight years as Atletico coach brought a 2-0 win, both goals courtesy set pieces from centre-backs Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin.
The tie saw losers of four of the past five finals face off, with both sides renowned for their defensive solidity. This was the first round in the tournament’s history in which VAR was in use and, just as it had in last week’s matches, the new technology heavily impacted this clash.
The first half was more open than expected, with both teams leaving more space than usual in midfield, but neither creating many clear chances in front of goal. Then came two VAR (video assistant referee) decisions, either side of the break, which seemed to have dealt a big blow to Atletico’s chances.
Atletico thought they had a penalty on 28 minutes when Mattia Di Sciglio tangled with Diego Costa on the edge of the box. The referee pointed to the spot before consulting the VAR and changing his decision to a free-kick just outside the area.
One of the game’s biggest talking points came on 71 minutes when Morata got in behind Chiellini to head past Sczcesny — only for the referee to reverse the decision after consulting with VAR.
After Morata had a goal disallowed, Atletico fans angrily threw lighters at Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, with Sky reporting that there were five or six thrown in total at the Polish keeper.
The anger of Atletico did not last for long however when Jose Giminez put the Spanish side 1-0 up as the last ten minutes of the match approached.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Diego Simeone was unbeaten in 11 home knockout games with the Rojiblancos, a run which has seen his side dispatch of AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea in the process.
And it is now clear that their focus for this season is on winning the only trophy the Argentine has yet to claim at the club.