Atletico beats Feyenoord to reach knockout stage of Champions League
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — With the help of two own-goals, Atletico Madrid beat Feyenoord 3-1 on Tuesday to seal its spot in the knockout stage of the Champions League a year after failing to get past the group stage.
The victory left Atletico with 11 points, one more than Lazio, which defeated Celtic 2-0 earlier Tuesday. Feyenoord stayed with six points, five more than Celtic, with one round of matches left.
“It’s always important to finish as high as possible," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "It’s been years since we’ve been able to reach the end (of the group stage) with this peace of mind. We still have to see if we will finish first or second, but now we can keep working and rest because this match demanded a lot from us.”
It was Atletico's first away win in the Champions League since March 2022, when it beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“We played with personality, doing well with possession and on the counterattacks,” Atletico defender Mario Hermoso said. “We had chances to score more goals. We are happy with the victory and with the spot in the next round.”
Atletico finished fourth last season in a group with Porto, Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge, missing out on the Europa League as well. Before that, it had failed to advance past the Champions League group stage only once in nine seasons.
Atletico opened the scoring with a fluke own-goal in the 14th minute when Feyenoord defender Lutsharel Geertruida found his own net while unsuccessfully trying to move away from the path of the ball after a cross by Marcos Llorente. Geertruida tried to step back as the ball came falling near him just in front of the goal, but it touched his belly and went past the goalkeeper standing near him.
Atletico added to the lead with a beautiful looping shot from a tough angle by Hermoso in the 57th, with the ball going across the area and finding the far corner.
“I didn’t really know where I was," Hermoso said. "I knew more or less where the net was, but the intention was to shoot on goal and the ball went in where it went in.”
Mats Wieffer pulled the hosts closer with a header in the 77th before Santiago Giménez headed the ball into his own net for Atletico’s third goal after a cross into the area.
“We played the game we wanted to play,” Simeone said. “There were some very good individual performances and, collectively, I think we played an important game for the club.”
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