11.04.2024 00:06 h

Atletico hold on to keep narrow advantage on 'nervous' Dortmund

Atletico Madrid earned a 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, surviving a late onslaught from the visitors.

Rodrigo De Paul and Samuel Lino's first half goals gave Diego Simeone's side a commanding lead but Sebastien Haller pulled one back to give the German side a foothold in the tie ahead of next week's return in Dortmund.

Edin Terzig said his side, fifth in the Bundesliga, were "very nervous" in the first half but they improved and hit the woodwork twice in the final stages of a match which saw security measures reinforced after the Islamic State (IS) group made threats against stadiums used for last-eight ties.

Atletico Madrid had flown out of the traps, keen to grasp a golden opportunity to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2017.

"We took a little first step, we wanted to win at home," De Paul told Movistar.

"Here we are strong, the fans give us a boost, these nights are incredible -- you never know if they will be repeated, the truth is I am very happy.

"When you win, I always think it's positive because if not, you never enjoy anything."

Despite not forcing an equaliser, Dortmund captain Emre Can said his team were content with the result.

"On such a night, one can also go under... there were phases where they completely overpowered us in the duels," Can told DAZN.

"So, we'll take the 2-1 and everything is open for next week."

Dortmund could not cope with the Rojiblancos' high press in the opening stages and De Paul fired the hosts ahead in the fifth minute after Ian Maatsen gave the ball away.

Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel passed the ball to the on-loan Chelsea defender, who panicked under pressure and played a slack pass which De Paul gleefully intercepted before tucking home.

Atletico have not lost any of their home Champions League knock-out games during Simeone's 12 years at the helm and continued to flood forward confidently at the baying Metropolitano.

Kobel clawed away a brilliant backheel flick by former Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, a key part of Atletico's back-line after his move in 2022.

The only negative note from a fine Atletico first half was a booking Lino earned, ruling him out for the second leg.

A few minutes later the Brazilian doubled his team's lead after another Dortmund defensive mix-up.

Mats Hummels, on his 500th appearance for Dortmund, badly directed a header into Alvaro Morata's path and he and Antoine Griezmann combined to feed Lino, who slid a low effort past Kobel.

Terzic brought on Julian Brandt for Felix Nmecha at half-time in search of more attacking spark.

Missing sick top goalscorer Donyell Malen the Bundesliga side struggled to find a way past Oblak, who saved from Niclas Fuellkrug early in a far tighter second half.

On-loan Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho began to get move involved for Dortmund, who pulled one back in the 81st minute, although not before Kobel made a stunning save to deny Lino his second.

Nahuel Molina miskicked a clearance and the ball fell to towering striker Haller who drove it beyond Oblak.

Despite the visitors finding a foothold, Atletico held on by the skin of their teeth and Dortmund fell to their first away defeat in four months.

English winger Jamie Bynoe-Gittens's long-range drive deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta's head and hit the crossbar, while Brandt nodded off the woodwork in a frantic finale.

Simeone was able to celebrate his 50th Champions League victory as a coach, becoming the ninth man to achieve the feat.

Simeone and Atletico have yet to conquer the Champions League, but this win is a shaky step towards the semi-finals.

Dortmund showed it will not be a walk in the park, however, with their second half display.

"We were very nervous and conceded two easy goals, (then) we managed to correct the situation," said Terzic.

"I told them to calm down -- we didn't draw but now we have a result that leaves the door open."