Atletico Madrid beat Porto in a remarkable 2-1 win featuring three stoppage time goals.
When these two met in the Champions League group stage last season, this same fixture finished 0-0 and from the outset that seemed a likely outcome again this time around.
Both sides were cautious. Atletico were patient, while Porto looked to counter.
Each side’s best chances came from individual defensive errors. Joao Felix for Atletico and Porto’s Mehdi Taremi came close to punishing such mistakes, but neither goalkeeper was tested in the opening 45 minutes.
Five minutes after half-time, Koke had Atletico ahead with a low driven shot, but the lead lasted only seconds as VAR intervened to overturn the goal due to offside.
Diego Simeone seemed satisfied with a draw when he withdrew striker Alvaro Morata for defender Mario Hermoso.
In the 82nd minute though, Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi went down in the Atletico box. Instead of getting the penalty he was looking for, he was shown his second yellow card of the evening and dismissed from the field.
That incident, and an injury to Porto’s Otavio, ensured lengthy stoppage time.
In the 92nd minute, Hermoso put the home side ahead with a deflected shot after some fancy footwork in the box.
Five minutes later, Hermoso went from hero to villain as he conceded a penalty for handball. Mateus Uribe – just – beat Oblak from the spot to seemingly ensure a draw.
Atletico threw everyone forward and were rewarded with a corner, from which Axel Witsel rose highest to flick on for substitute Antoine Griezmann to head home a 101st-minute winner.
TALKING POINT – SIMEONE’S SYSTEM STILL WORKS
Despite entering his 11th season as Atletico manager, Diego Simeone is still getting a remarkable tune out of his players.
The patience of his team, even when dominating possession at home, to never waste an attack is really very impressive.
Simeone’s team are as disciplined and dogged defensively as any team in Europe, but they also know how and when to attack.
Atletico had far fewer attacks than Porto, fewer shots and fewer shots on target, but they used the chances they did create very effectively.
The late goals from Hermoso and Griezmann serve only to underline the fact that even after all this time, Simeone has the complete buy-in of his players.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Axel Witsel was calmness personified as he continued to excel in his new role at the heart of Atletico Madrid’s defence. Having just arrived this summer, the veteran midfielder appeared remarkably comfortable against Porto.
He was strong in the air and on the ground, while playing a crucial role in Atleti’s retention of the ball.
No player made as many passes in the first half, or won as many tackles as Witsel.
He even successfully marked Pepe at set pieces.
Witsel’s remarkable energy was influential, too. Even in the 99th-minute, Witsel carried the ball out of his own end, driving Atletico forward in search of a winner. When that attack broke down, it was Witsel again who snuffed out Porto’s four-on-three break.
Then, with seconds remaining, Witsel got the flick-on for Griezmann’s winner.
Atletico: Oblak 7, Carrasco 6, Reinildo 7, Witsel 8, Gimenez 7, Molina 6, Koke 6, Saul 5, Llorente 6, Joao Felix 7, Morata 5. Subs: Hermoso 6, de Paul 6, Lemar 5, Griezmann 7, Correa 6
Porto: Costa 5, Pepe 5, Pepe 7, Carmo 7, Zaidu 6, Uribe 7, Otavio 6, Eusaquio 7, Galeno 7, Taremi 5, Evanilson 6. Subs: Veron 6, Mário 7, Martínez 5
15’ GALENO ESCAPES AGAIN
The Brazilian finds space down the left wing again and glides to the edge of the box, but waits a moment too long before shooting. His attempt is blocked and goes out for a corner.
45’ TAREMI PUTS IT ON A PLATE
With seconds left in the half, Taremi takes down a long ball and holds off Gimenez before cutting it back onto the penalty spot. But there’s no Porto teammate there to put away a golden chance.
82’ TAREMI SENT OFF FOR DIVING
Porto’s forward goes looking for a penalty but instead receives his second yellow card for a particularly unconvincing dive.
92’ GOAL ATLETICO
Mario Hermoso’s deflected shot loops up and over Costa to give the home side a very late lead.
97’ GOAL PORTO
After a penalty is awarded against Hermoso for handball, Uribe’s spot kick just squeezes under Jan Oblak’s arm to level the scores in Madrid.
101’ GOAL ATLETICO
The home side win a penalty in the 10th minute of stoppage time and Witsel’s flick on finds a completely unmarked Antoine Griezmann who heads home the latest of winning goals.