Thursday, June 20, 2024

Atletico Madrid, Barca through as group winners in Champions League

Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona both advanced to the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League as group winners on Wednesday.

However, Atletico will feel more satisfied of the two after defeating Lazio 2-0, while Barcelona suffered a loss away to Royal Antwerp, reports Xinhua.

Antoine Griezmann initiated the scoring for Atletico after just six minutes, expertly converting a chance created by Samuel Lino, who skillfully navigated past several challenges down the left before delivering the ball for the Frenchman to score from close to the penalty spot.

Mario Hermoso found the back of the Lazio net in the 39th minute, but the goal was disallowed after the VAR identified Lino in an offside position, directly interfering with the play.

Lino compensated for the disallowed goal by netting Atletico’s second in the 51st minute with an impressive volley, following a setup by Memphis Depay.

The second goal seemingly deflated the Italian side, who required three goals to top the group. In contrast, Atletico enjoyed a comfortable final half-hour of the match.

Barcelona’s progression to the next round as group leaders was certain, but Xavi Hernandez’s search for solace following last weekend’s 4-2 defeat at home to Girona met with disappointment. A 3-2 loss to Royal Antwerp did little to alleviate concerns over a crisis in his team.

A Barcelona squad featuring young Hector Fort at right-back fell behind early to an Arthur Vermeeren goal in the second minute. Although Ferran Torres equalized for Barcelona before halftime, Vincent Janssen regained the lead for Antwerp with a left-foot shot from the center of the Barca area.

Youngster Marc Guiu seemed to have salvaged a point for Barcelona with a 91st-minute header, but just a minute later, George Ilenikhena broke through to beat Inaki Pena with a low shot, granting the Belgian team their inaugural win of the tournament.

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