Exhausted after a long hard slog over 90 minutes against resilient opponents is usually how visitors to the Vicente Calderón feel. However, the boot was on the other foot for Atlético Madrid on Tuesday as they secured a last-gasp 2-1 victory over a dogged Rostov team.
“It was a difficult game because they’re a similar side to us,” two-goal hero Antoine Griezmann told UEFA.com. “They’re a side who defend well and it’s hard to create chances and score against them. In the end we were able to do so and took the three points, which is the most important thing.”
The France forward produced a stunning volley to open the scoring, then found himself in the right place at the right time to break Russian hearts at the end as Atlético booked a place in the last 16. The Rojiblancos sit top of Group D on 12 points and are one of just two teams still with a 100% record in this campaign.
It was a timely return to scoring form for the No7 after five barren games for club and country. “We knew it would be similar to the match in Russia, with few goals,” the 25-year-old said. “We have to take it game by game and now we want to finish top of the group. I’m very happy because I’d had a bit of a dry spell.”
Team-mate Koke later described Griezmann as “spectacular”. “He has shown his quality for years,” the midfielder added.
It is often said the sign of champions is getting a result when not at your best – which is precisely what Diego Simeone’s men were able to do, much to Koke’s delight.
“We knew they were going to shut up at the back. However, we were able to get the victory and we’re very happy. We’re having a good season, but we’re just at the start and there’s a long way to go.”
Ominously for the rest of the field, the Spanish international reckons there is more to come from this group of players. “This Atlético side does not have a ceiling. We work hard every day to improve and go one better. We’ll see at the end of the season.”