Saul Niguez scored the only goal of the game as Atletico beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash at the Calderon.

The 21-year-old slalomed his way beyond several challenges before following up a bewitching stepover with a composed finish that flew in off the post on 11 minutes.

Champions League
Bayern dominate Atlético to open Champions League defence with comprehensive win
21/10/2020 AT 19:58

It was a goal worthy of winning a match of this magnitude as two teams on opposite sides of the football spectrum in terms of their philosophies, battled it out in an absorbing encounter.

The hosts were happy to soak up pressure throughout and although Bayern upped the ante in the second half, they struggled to create clear-cut chances.

David Alaba came closest to netting what would have been a significant away goal but his 40-yard blockbuster crashed back off the crossbar. The frustration was clear throughout the Bayern side as they clocked up more than 70 per cent of the possession but failed to unlock one of Europe's best defences.

Atletico inevitably tired as they chased and harried but almost snatched a second late on when Fernando Torres broke free and flicked an outside-of-the-foot effort against the far post.

Much will be made of how Diego Simeone won the tactical head-to-head with Pep Guardiola, and while the Spaniard cut a frustrated figure on the touchline, he will remain upbeat about his team's chances of booking a place in the final when they meet again in the Allianz Arena next Tuesday.

Talking Point

Simeone 1-0 Guardiola. It was billed as a clash of styles - and it was Simeone's defence-minded approach that won the day. Atletico proved too tough for Bayern to break down. The Bavarians had all of the ball but it was the hosts who looked the more likely when they poured forward on the counter.

The frustration was evident on all of the faces of the visiting players and it began to boil over late on with a flurry of bookings; proof that Simeone had come out on top in the tactical battle. Guardiola has been the most sought after coach in Europe for the past decade, but Simeone's stock continues to rise as his aggressive workmen continue to upset football's aristocracy.

Bayern Munich's David Alaba (not pictured) hits the bar as Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak attempts save

Image credit: Reuters

The Spaniard has the chance to redeem himself in the second leg and knows the final assessment of his time at the Allianz Arena will ultimately come down to whether they lift this season's Champions League. At the moment, Atletico will be relishing the opportunity to finish the job off in Germany next week and leave a blot on Pep's CV.

Man of the Match

Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid)

It could have been any one of Atletico's defenders, but the 21-year-old midfielder struck a quite sensational goal that ultimately proved to be the difference between two top-class side. Saul was a creative menace throughout and on this evidence he's not far off making his senior debut for Spain.

Player Ratings

ATLETICO MADRID: Oblak 8, Juanfran 8, Giménez 8, Savić 8, Filipe Luís 8, Gabi 7, Fernández 7, Saúl Ñíguez 9, Koke 8, Griezmann 8, Torres 8. Subs: Partey n/a.

BAYERN MUNICH: Neuer 7, Lahm 7, Martínez 7, Alaba 8, Bernat 6, Alonso 7, Vidal 7, Thiago 6, Coman 6, Costa 6, Lewandowski 5. Subs: Ribery 5, Muller 5, Benatia 5.

Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary

Key Moments

11' - GOAL! ATLETICO 1-0 BAYERN. Saul Niguez scores a quite sublime solo goal, slaloming beyond two challenges and flummoxing Alaba with a stepover before curling a shot into the far corner via the post. Magnificent.

12' - BAYERN CHANCE! The visitors respond and are almost level immediately. Gimenez redeems himself by heading off the line after his woeful attempted clearance had allowed Lewandowski the chance to nod an effort towards the top corner.

25' - BAYERN CHANCE! Costa spots Oblak moving off his line and curves a whipped free kick from the right flank towards the near post, but it just misses as it arrows into the side netting. Good idea from the Brazilian. It had the Atletico keeper scrambling.

30' - ATLETICO CHANCE! Griezmann drives into the area and holds off Martinez before stabbing a low shot under pressure towards the near post that Neuer manages to block to safety.

54' - WOODWORK! Alaba lets rip with a stonking left-foot 40-yarder than cannons back off the crossbar. So unlucky.

75' - OFF THE POST! Torres leads the counter and cuts in from the right before firing a shot against the far post. It rebounds to Koke who can't beat Neuer with a tame follow up from the edge of the area.

90+4' - BAYERN CHANCE! A long ball drops for Vidal on the edge of the box but he miscues his side foot and it bobbles through to a grateful Oblak. Seconds earlier Benatia ghosted in to meet a left-wing cross but headed straight at the Atletico keeper. The hosts are clinging on.

Key Stats

Saúl Ñíguez has scored three goals in the CL this season, more than any other Spanish player.

Atlético have kept a clean sheet in 14 of their last 16 Champions League matches at the Calderón.

They have kept eight clean sheets in total this season, second only to Real Madrid (9).

Based on historic results in all European cup competition, the chances for each team to advance based on the first leg result are Atletico Madrid 59.3%, Bayern 40.7%.

MATCH IN A TWEET

Champions League
Lewandowski and Suarez are the perfect embodiment of their teams, who will come out on top?
21/10/2020 AT 08:46
Champions League
Gnabry tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Atletico game
20/10/2020 AT 20:12