MX23RW : Tuesday, November 13 16:44:43

Result: Atletico Madrid secure first-leg advantage

Atletico Madrid record a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash in Germany on Tuesday night.

Saul Niguez, Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres were all on the scoresheet as Atletico Madrid recorded a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash in Germany.

Karim Bellarabi had one back for Leverkusen early in the second period before Stefan Savic scored an own goal in the 68th minute, but four away goals for Atletico has made Diego Simeone's side the strong favourites to advance into the quarter-finals ahead of the second leg in Madrid on March 15.

The big team news from the Atletico camp was that head coach Simeone resisted the temptation to start number one goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who has just returned to training following a dislocated shoulder.

Oblak was on the bench, however, with Miguel Moya again starting between the sticks. Juanfran and Diego Godin again both missed out for the Madrid side through injury, but Gameiro, who netted a hat-trick at the weekend, was in the XI as the Frenchman was selected as the starting striker ahead of Torres.

As for Leverkusen, 17-year-old attacker Kai Havertz was handed his first Champions League start, while Javier Hernandez, Julian Brandt and Bellarabi were also all selected in what was an extremely attacking team.

It was the home side that took control of the possession in the opening 10 minutes, but Atletico were a threat on the counter-attack and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco so nearly found Gameiro with a low cross inside the Leverkusen box after a swift early break from the visitors.

Twice Atletico came close to making the breakthrough in the 13th minute, but Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno made a smart save from a low Gameiro effort, before Wendell turned a Filipe Luis cross against his own crossbar from close range as the home side survived two dangerous moments in quick succession.

Atletico continued to force the issue, however, and deservedly made the breakthrough in the 17th minute when Saul Niguez created a yard of space outside the Leverkusen box before curling a wonderful effort out of the reach of Leno.

Hernandez had a sight of goal for Leverkusen in the 22nd minute, but the Mexican international could only curl a weak effort into the arms of Moya as Atletico remained in control entering the mid-point of the first period.

It then went from bad to worse for Leverkusen in the 25th minute when a defensive mistake saw Gameiro race clear of the home side's defence before turning and feeding Griezmann, who smashed the ball into the top corner.

Kevin Kampl came close to picking out the top corner just before the half-hour mark as Leverkusen looked to halve the deficit, but Moya was on hand to make a terrific save, before Leno kept out a close-range Griezmann effort down the other end after another pass from Gameiro had set up an excellent opportunity for the Frenchman.

Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt resisted the temptation to make a change at the interval, but the pattern of the match did not change as Atletico went searching for a third goal straight from kickoff in the second period.

It was the home side that struck back in the 48th minute, however, when Kampl delivered a terrific cross into Bellarabi and the German international guided the ball into the bottom corner of the net for 2-1.

Less than three minutes later, Atletico had a wonderful chance of their own as Gameiro was released into the Leverkusen box, but the former Paris Saint-Germain striker struck the crossbar from a difficult angle.

Kevin Volland replaced teenager Havertz just before the hour as Leverkusen looked for more cutting edge in the final third of the field, during a period of the match where both teams were not shy in committing players forward.

Leverkusen continued to leave gaps at the back, however, and Atletico scored their third of the night from the penalty spot in the 58th minute after Gameiro, who had been pulled to the ground by Aleksandar Dragovic, fired the ball past Leno.

The end-to-end nature of the contest continued and the home side had their second of the night in the 68th minute when Atletico goalkeeper Moya pushed a Wendell cross straight against his own centre-back Savic and the ball found its way into the back of the net for 3-2.

Simeone introduced Thomas Partey for Gameiro 20 minutes from time in a bid to tighten the match in midfield, but Leverkusen were intent on levelling the scores as they forced the issue in front of a vocal home support.

Hernandez twice had efforts for Leverkusen in the 81st minute, but the Mexican's first strike was blocked by Luis, before his second flew over the crossbar as Atletico just about survived entering the final stages of the contest.

The visitors were always dangerous on the counter-attack, however, and scored their fourth of the night in the 86th minute when substitute Torres headed a Sime Vrsaljko cross into the back of the net.

Atletico threatened a fifth late on when Angel Correa broke into the Leverkusen box, but Leno made a smart save as it finished 4-2 to the visitors at the end of an enthralling first leg in Germany.

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Leverkusen's midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu celebrates scoring with Slovenian midfielder Kevin Kampl (R) and Brazilian defender Wendell during the UEFA Champions League group E first leg football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bate Borisov in Lever
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona1273234181624
2Sevilla1272324141023
3Atletico MadridAtletico12651168823
4AlavesAlaves127231712523
5Espanyol126331610621
6Real Madrid126242016420
7Real Valladolid1245399017
8Levante125251819-117
9GironaGirona124531314-117
10Real Sociedad124441514116
11Getafe124441110116
12Real Betis124441215-316
13EibarEibar124351218-615
14Celta Vigo123542220214
15Valencia1228289-114
16Villarreal122551113-211
17Athletic Bilbao121741319-610
18Leganes12246916-710
19Rayo Vallecano121471425-117
20Huesca121381025-156

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