Atletico again held by 10-man Qarabag in Champions League
MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid will need some help if it is to advance from the group stage of the Champions League for the fifth straight season.
After being held by 10-man Qarabag to a 1-1 draw in Group C on Tuesday, Atletico is still winless after four matches. It trails second-place Chelsea by four points and group leader Roma by five.
Atletico needs to win its last two matches, against Roma and at Chelsea, and hope that one of them slips up against Qarabag. Chelsea plays in Azerbaijan on Nov. 22 and Roma hosts the newcomers on Dec. 5.
“In football you get what you deserve,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We will try to beat Roma in our next game and then we will see if destiny gives us what we deserve.”
Qarabag earned its first ever Champions League point when it played Atletico in Azerbaijan two weeks ago, a match it also finished with 10 men.
Atletico again had a difficult time creating significant scoring chances against Qarabag, which played solidly defensively and took advantage of one of its few opportunities up front to break the deadlock.
“We didn’t start badly, we could’ve done more damage but we weren’t precise,” Simeone said. “They scored and we became anxious and nervous.”
Midfielder Michel scored with a header after a corner kick in the 40th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Atletico equalized in the 56th with a stunning side-foot shot from outside the area by midfielder Thomas Partey, hitting the top corner after a back-heel set up by forward Antoine Griezmann.
Diego Simeone’s team failed to find a winner despite Qarabag going a man down a couple of minutes later when Pedro Henrique was sent off for a dangerous high kick in a challenge with Atletico defender Diego Godin.
“The red card made things difficult for us but we need to be ready for all circumstances,” Qarabag coach Gurban Gurbanov said. “Having one less helped us grow.”
Needing the victory, the hosts pressed forward for the rest of the game at the nearly packed Metropolitano, but they were denied by a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Ibrahim Sehic.
The goalkeeper stopped Nicolas Gaitan’s close-range shot deep in injury time in what was one of Atletico’s best chances.
Atletico also went down a man in the final minutes after defender Stefan Savic was sent off with a second yellow card.
Qarabag would have been eliminated if it had lost the match in Madrid. It earned the draw despite playing without leading scorer Dino Ndlovu, who was sent off when the teams met in Azerbaijan.
“It was a tough game,” Gurbanov said. “My players didn’t want to lose and showed their character. We need games like this to get experience and improve. Games like these help them. They’re growing and this will help them for the future.”
Roma defeated Chelsea 3-0 at home in the night’s other Group C match.
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