Griezmann inspires Atlético to victory over Brugge

Antoine Griezmann scored two of Atlético Madrid’s goals against Club Brugge. (AFP pic)

MADRID: A double from Antoine Griezmann helped lift Atlético Madrid to a 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday, earning them a second consecutive victory in the competition and a commanding position in Group A.

France striker Griezmann gave the home side the lead shortly before the half-hour mark after seeing an earlier strike ruled out for narrowly straying offside, although Atlético’s seemingly comfortable advantage was soon shot down from out of nowhere.

Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma appeared to pose little threat as he hovered on the left side of the penalty area, but surprised everyone in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a perfectly-struck shot into the far top corner to equalise in the 39th minute.

Atlético might have felt a sense of déjà vu from their disastrous 1-1 draw at home to Qarabağ last year which led to them being knocked out in the group stages, and after the interval put all their efforts into regaining the lead.

Spain midfielder Saúl Ñíguez came close on two occasions in quick succession while Griezmann was left frustrated by a point-blank save from Croatian goalkeeper Karlo Letica.

The Frenchman eventually grabbed his second goal by smashing a pass from strike partner Diego Costa into the net in the 67th minute, although Atlético’s relief at restoring their lead was soon punctured by the sight of Costa going off injured.

The Belgian side had a short-lived period of pressure in search of an equaliser and nearly got one when defender Stefano Denswil headed narrowly wide.

Atlético responded with a flurry of attempts down the other end and after substitute Ángel Correa had missed two clear chances, Koke steered a loose ball high into the net after a darting run into the area by Griezmann.

Atlético are second in Group A, locked on six points with Borussia Dortmund, who beat AS Monaco 3-0 on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone’s side play at Dortmund in their next European outing in three weeks’ time. Brugge and Monaco, meanwhile, both have no points.