Atlético de Madrid scratch out a draw against Leverkusen at the Vicente Calderón

A goal from Simão ends up being the equalizer

Atlético de Madrid earned a point against Bayer Leverkusen after drawing one-all at the Vicente Calderón in a match in which the home side dominated the second half, but let the first 45 minutes get away from them. A solitary goal from Simão was enough to scratch out a draw that keeps Quique’s lads alive in their group.

After the loss suffered in the first Group Stage match of the UEFA Europa League against Aris Salonica, Atlético de Madrid was aware of the importance of the clash against Bayer Leverkusen. The Germans, with three points in their cache, travelled to Madrid with the intention of taking something positive away from the Vicente Calderón. With the last-minute absence of Argentine Kun Agüero, who was still feeling the effects of his knee injury, Quique Sánchez Flores decided to play Brazilian Diego Costa alongside Uruguayan Forlán in attack.

The opening minutes consisted of the Spaniards and Germans sizing each other up, although it was Atlético who tried to search for Adler’s area first. Quique Sánchez Flores’ lads wanted to use the wings to open up the pitch and thus find spaces to surprise Bayer’s defenders. Swiss striker Derdiyok tested De Gea, who was celebrating his one-year anniversary as the Atlético starting goalkeeper, but the ball was off-target.

Things didn’t clear up for either of the two teams. Fifteen minutes in, neither Atlético de Madrid nor Bayer Leverkusen had created any clear scoring chances. Imprecision dominated the match and the strikers weren’t capable of unsettling the opposing goalkeepers. The clearest opportunity came from the boots of Sam after he broke down the right flank, although the chance ended up as nothing thanks to a quick tackle from Álvaro Domínguez. Little-by-little, the German started to move down the pitch. Derdiyok put a scare into the home crowd in minute 22 as he almost tallied the first. Heynckes’ squad seemed comfortable and was moving the ball easily.

Atlético de Madrid quickly reacted to Bayer’s chances. In just a few minutes the ‘rojiblancos’ created two dangerous attacks. The first came from the feet of Diego Costa and the second from Forlán, although neither of them found the net. Filipe Luis was the player who created the most danger down the left wing. Even though they weren’t getting the desired result, the Atlético players were giving their all.

Bayer was searching and their prize came in the 38th minute. Hyypia flicked on a corner at the near post, Filipe Luis cleared the ball off the far post and Derdiyok, off the rebound, rifled a shot past De Gea. Three minutes later it was Barnetta who tested De Gea, who reacted quickly to make the save. Things were getting complicated for Quique’s men, who were unable to string together a dangerous play. With this outlook, the teams headed into the dressing room. It was a good time for the ‘colchoneros’ to review their mistakes and put together a different game plan for the second half.

The re-start began with greater intensity for Atlético. Quique decided to take off Raúl García and Forlán and sent on Tiago and Fran Mérida in their places. In the first minute, Tiago sent a great pass through to Simão that Diego Costa mishit inside the six-yard box. The home squad didn’t want to give up on the match and had to show their best stuff. Things changed in the 50th minute of the encounter when the referee called a penalty committed on Fran Mérida, which was tucked away clinically by Portuguese winger Simão. With the score even on the scoreboard, Atlético de Madrid turned up the decibels.

Things got interesting, as the ‘rojiblanco’ side began to play better in the opening minutes of the second half. Diego Costa and Fran Mérida linked up nicely and that forced Bayer Leverkusen to drop back their lines. In minute 58, Ujfalusi sent in a cross-shot and Adler had to flip the ball back over his crossbar for a corner. Atlético de Madrid didn’t rest and searched tirelessly for the game-winner. The Madrid manager appeared pleased with the play, as the substitutions that he made at the half were bearing fruit.

Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi made a run down the right wing, taking the ball all the way to the touchline, but his cross to the far post was headed wide by Reyes, raising the fans at the Calderón to their feet. The home team was finding open spaces and wanted to take advantage of their chances, but their legs were beginning to tire. In the last ten minutes the Germans woke back up as they knew that if they let down too much they could lose the match. The association between Reyes and Fran Mérida was working and both were driving the Bayer Leverkusen defenders mad.

The ‘rojiblancos’ continued to create chances in attack and the game turned into an Atlético monologue. Quique’s squad never stopped looking for the second goal. Brazilian striker Diego Costa showed off his best stuff in the second half along with Fran Mérida. The forward almost got through his pass that would have allowed Fran Mérida to finish off with ease. Bayer replied on the ensuing attack with a cross from the wing that Helmes miraculously failed to get his head on right in front of De Gea.

With just over two minutes of stoppage time, a match in which Atlético went for the winning goal until the final whistle came to an end. With this draw, Quique’s squad earned a point that wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, as they’ll now have to travel to Norway and win if they want to keep their hopes of passing through to the next round alive.

ATLÉTICO DE MADRID, 1 (Simão, penalty); BAYER LEVERKUSEN, 1 (Derdiyok)

Atlético de Madrid: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Domínguez, Filipe Luis; Raúl García (Tiago, 46’), Assunçao, Simão, Reyes, Diego Costa and Forlán (Fran Mérida, 46’).

Bayer Leverkusen: Adler; Schwaab, Manuel Friedrich, Hyypia, Kadlec; Reinartz, Vidal (Bender, 61’), Balitsch (Rolfes, 61’); Sam, Barnetta and Derdiyok (Helmes, 67’).

Referee: Pablo Tagliavento (ITA). For Bayer Leverkusen showed yellow cards to Hyypia (11’), Sam (68’) and Barnetta (89’).

Incidents: Estadio Vicente Calderón. Second Group Stage match of the UEFA Europa League.


0-1 (38’). Derdiyok scores after a clearance by Filipe Luis.
1-1 (50’). Simão equalises from the penalty spot.