Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo misses late chance as Atletico Madrid show true grit to earn point against Juventus

Atletico substitute Herrera heads in 90th-minute goal as Champions League Group D match ends 2-2 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium

Hector Herrera made it a debut to remember for Atletico Madrid as his late header salvaged a 2-2 draw as Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo had an unusually quiet game against the team he loves to taunt.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Atletico in last year's Champions League to eliminate the Spanish club at the last-16 stage, although he came within inches of grabbing a last-gasp winner when he sent a shot just past the far post.

Atletico produced a typically spirited comeback from two goals down to earn a point in a thrilling finale to Wednesday's heavyweight Group D opener.

Mexico midfielder Herrera connected with a thumping header to turn in Kieran Trippier's corner after defender Stefan Savic had pulled a goal back for the Spaniards in the 70th also with a header.

"This team is renowned for suffering and fighting until the end. This result tastes better than most draws, of course we wanted to win but a draw is good given how tough Juventus are," said Herrera, who joined Atleti from Porto in the close season.

"A draw isn't bad at all given the team we were up against and we were better than them in many moments of the game. I'm so happy to have made my debut and to help the team."

"This game will do us a lot of good for the rest of the season, as it makes us believe in the character of the team," his manager, Diego Simeone, told reporters.

"We started well then they hit us twice and we were out of the game but we never caved in."

With full-backs Trippier and Renan Lodi seeing plenty of the ball it was Atletico who were the brighter side in the first half but Juve went ahead in the 48th minute when Cuadrado sent an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner.

The Italian champions doubled their lead in the 65th minute following another quick counter as midfielder Matuidi headed home a cross from Alex Sandro.

But with Simeone motivating them from the sidelines and a typically boisterous Wanda Metropolitano crowd roaring them on, Atletico refused to give in.

Savic's scrappy goal galvanised Atletico and were only denied an equaliser by a superb save from Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to keep out Vitolo's effort.

Diego Costa earned a yellow card for taking his protests too far after Atletico had claims for a penalty turned down after the ball appeared to hit the arm of Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Substitute Herrera then endeared himself to the Atleti faithful when he escaped his marker to power home Trippier's corner to spark jubilant scenes in the stands.

Bonucci did not hide his disappointment at the fact his Juve side could not see out the victory.

Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, right, celebrates after teammate Hector Herrera scores their second goal. Reuters
Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, right, celebrates after teammate Hector Herrera scores their second goal. Reuters

"It’s a real shame to concede two goals from set plays. We had a great performance, but we’ve got to be more focused, because this has happened too many times now," he said.

"Everyone has to be more concentrated. A side like ours cannot keep conceding this many goals from set plays."

Maurizio Sarri said that though he was satisfied with a point from Juve's opening fixture, letting a two-goal lead slip so late on had left a bittersweet feeling.

"I feel good about the character we showed, the performance we gave and the two goals, but I feel a sense of anger because we had the game under control and we let it slip," he said.

The result sees Atletico and Juve on a point , trailing Lokomotiv Moscow, who beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 away from home in the other Group D match.

Updated: September 19, 2019 10:05 AM

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