Atletico seal top spot with 2-0 win over Lazio



Thu, 14 Dec 2023 - 01:30 GMT


Thu, 14 Dec 2023 - 01:30 GMT

Lazio's Mario Gila in action with Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata REUTERS/Susana Vera

Lazio's Mario Gila in action with Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata REUTERS/Susana Vera

(Reuters) - Antoine Griezmann and Samuel Lino scored in each half to give Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Lazio on Wednesday that secured them top spot in Champions League Group E, the first time since 2016 that they had reached the knockouts as group winners.


A year after being knocked out of the competition in the group stage, Diego Simeone's side went into the last matchday unbeaten and sure of a place in the last 16, but they needed at least a point against the Italian team to finish top.


They finished with 14 points, four ahead of Lazio in second place. Feyenoord finished third on six points and will play in the Europa League, with Celtic bottom of the group on four points.


Atletico dominated proceedings and were never in danger, even with Simeone deciding to rest some of his key players, as captain Koke and striker Alvaro Morata started on the bench, while Griezmann and Jose Maria Jimenez played only the first half.


Atletico's Lino was a constant menace motoring up and down their left wing and he was given a standing ovation by fans after being named man of the match.


He put the ball on a plate for Griezmann to open the scoring in the sixth minute after winning possession on the edge of the box and crossing for the French forward, who slotted home with a first-time strike.


It was Griezmann's fifth Champions League goal this season which put him level with Erling Haaland, Rasmus Hojlund and team mate Morata as the competition’s top scorers.


The French forward has found the back of the net 14 times in 21 matches played in all competitions this season and he is only two goals behind Luis Aragones' record as Atletico's all-time top scorer with 173.


Atletico had a Mario Hermoso goal ruled-out just before the break for offside in the build up and wasted a couple of great chances through Memphis Depay before Lino secured the points for the hosts with a fine volley on the rebound inside the box in the 51st minute.


It was Atletico's 20th consecutive home victory in all competitions, levelling club's record from the 2012-13 season. The last time they failed to win at home was a 1-1 LaLiga draw against Getafe in February.


"It's the fans, who are here behind us, pressing. The games here are different, here we have our people, they are pressing and we are motivated to play great games," Lino told Movistar Plus.


"The entire team played a great game. I'm MVP, but what matters is winning and finishing first in the group.


"We always have to be energetic, to attack, to defend and this is Atletico. We have to be physically prepared to deliver with our style of play."



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