Atletico Madrid put domestic troubles behind to defeat PSV Eindhoven 2-0 in the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners.
Atletico kicked off, knowing Bayern Munich’s defeat in Rostov meant a draw will assure them a first place finish in their group, but they also needed to show a more positive face following consecutive defeats in La Liga, including Saturday’s 3-0 loss at home to Real Madrid.
Coach Diego Simeone reacted to that defeat by bringing Jose Gimenez and Tiago Cardoso into his side for Saul and Stefan Savic.
The first half was a relatively cagey affair with Antoine Griezmann having an early chance for Atletico, while Gaston Pereiro went closest for the Dutch side.
However, it was not until 10 minutes into the second half that Atletico Madrid opened the score when Griezmann fed Kevin Gameiro who fired home from a relatively narrow angle.
Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead in the 66th minute with a low left foot shot after a neat pass from Tiago to ensure Simeone’s side is the only team in the competition with 5 wins from 5 games.
Leo Messi returned following a stomach bug and scored twice as FC Barcelona won 2-0 away to Glasgow Celtic to ensure they finish top of their qualifying group.
Messi’s first goal was a typical left foot finish as he reacted well following a low ball into the box and his second was a penalty after a foul on Luis Suarez.