AS Monaco XI
After a disappointing draw against Eibar over the weekend, Atlético quickly turned the page to their first game of the Champions League campaign against AS Monaco. Diego Simeone and his men were looking to get out of their slow start and gain three points to kick off their tough group in style — Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge played in the other game
Atlético dominated the early part of the match, especially in possession. Simeone was in the stands, serving out the final game of his three-match ban from European competition, pacing about and shouting as the match moved along. Diego Costa had a good chance in the first five minutes as he took up a lofted Antoine Griezmann pass and hit a shot just wide.
Juanfran, Correa and even Griezmann exploited the space given by Monaco on the right, but the hosts — captained by former Atlético hero Radamel Falcao — soon woke up and worked their way into the match. Falcao used his strength to push off players and win the ball, which played a part in the opening goal.
In the 18th minute, Djibril Sidibé sent in a cross, only to be met by a poor touch from Saúl. Falcao jumped on the opportunity, took the ball away from him and sent the ball back into danger. With the ball bouncing and lackluster efforts to clear it, Samuel Grandsir smashed the ball past Jan Oblak to give Monaco the lead.
Oblak kept the match close with a solid save from distance, and Costa repaid his efforts with a 31st minute equalizer. Griezmann played a perfect one-touch pass on a chipped ball from midfield, and Costa beat his marker before he finished with aplomb.
Atlético soon regained control and took the lead for good when José Giménez thumped a header past Diego Benaglio in first half stoppage time. The goal came from a Koke corner — an encouraging sign for a side that has struggled mightily from set pieces the past couple seasons.
In the second half, Atlético did what they do best — they sat back and held onto their lead. Mono Burgos ensured his side remained compact defensively and Monaco simply did not have the space to create chances. Kamil Glik nearly equalized at the very end, though, when his header twisted just wide of Oblak.
Atlético needed this after a slow start to the season, and hopefully it will kick their play up a notch when they return to LaLiga this weekend. Atleti are tied atop the group with Dortmund — who beat Brugge 1-0 — and face the Belgian champions on Oct. 3.