Champions League: Chelsea stuns Atletico Madrid with literally last kick of game

(Reuters)

If you wanted to know the story of Chelsea’s first Champions League away trip of the 2017-18 campaign – and of the first European night at Atletico Madrid’s new crown jewel, the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano – all you had to do was train a set of eyes, or a camera, on Antonio Conte.

The fiery Italian manager rode a roller coaster of emotions through a pulsating 2-1 win in Madrid that was settled less than five seconds before the final whistle. Michy Batshuayi popped up to give Chelsea a deserved three points:


And Conte jumped for joy, running through his technical area, his hair flapping wildly as he did. Minutes later, he couldn’t stop pumping his fists in the direction of the traveling Chelsea supporters. He knew what a memorable night this had just become.

The previous 90-plus minutes had given him plenty of reason for both pride and exasperation. His Blues gave a fantastic account of themselves. But he knew they had played well enough to claim a victory.

That’s why he stormed back to his bench, intense rage oozing out of his face, as Alvaro Morata dragged two first-half chances wide, and after Eden Hazard’s deflected shot struck the post. And it’s why he almost fell to the Metropolitano turf on at least one occasion – Cesc Fabregas couldn’t quite sort out his feet to stab home a second-half sitter.

But Conte also raged in a celebratory sense when Morata cancelled out a first-half Atleti penalty with a second half header. That looked to have snatched Chelsea a point. And then, incredibly, with literally the last kick of the game, Batshuayi brought two more back to London.

Chelsea stuns Atletico

Conte had to have been fuming, though, as he trudged back to the dressing room at halftime. Because … well, because David Luiz happened.

There is no way to predict when Luiz’s ultra-competitive yet fragile psyche will crumble. There is no telling when the relevant neurons in his soccer brain will start firing like mad. No telling when the mistake will come.

It arrived on Wednesday six minutes before halftime, and it undid a lot of positive play from Chelsea throughout the first half. It looked like it might even be the defining moment of the night in Madrid.

Luiz grabbed a fistful of Lucas Hernandez’s jersey on an Atletico corner, dragging him to the ground and forcing the referee to point to the spot. Antoine Griezmann converted the penalty, and Atletico led at the break.

But Luiz set off the move that got Chelsea an equalizer. He pinged a ball out to Hazard on the left wing. Hazard’s cross was magnificent, as was Morata’s flicked header:


Conte was the first to greet Morata as the Spaniard ran to the bench to celebrate. He then wrapped up Hazard in a ferocious embrace.

The entire game was played at an extremely high level. It might have been the best two-sided match of the Champions League thus far. And few would have complained had it ended all square.

But if there was going to be a winner, it always seemed likely to be Chelsea. Luiz won a free kick in the attacking half. Chelsea played it short, and would have been lambasted for the decision had a chance not materialized. But the Blues stayed patient, took advantage of an overload on the far side of the penalty area, and shocked the Metropolitano.

PSG rolling, Bayern rocking

The high-profile clash of the day turned out to be a one-sided affair. PSG – with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe starting together up top for the first time since the Neymar-Cavani penalty kerfuffle – stormed past Bayern Munich. Neymar set up Dani Alves for an early opener:


Mbappe then teed up Cavani, who still had a lot to do from the edge of the penalty area. And oh, my, he certainly did it:


Some of the post-match discussion will surely center on Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich, who is deputizing for Manuel Neuer while the German No. 1 recovers from a foot injury. Would Neuer have saved one or both of the first-half goals? Probably.

But most of the discussion should revolve around PSG and its dominance. There was only one heavyweight on the field Wednesday, and it was the hosts. Neymar completed the 3-0 rout in Paris:


Both the French and German giants have stumbled in their domestic leagues recently. PSG, sans Neymar, drew 0-0 with Montpellier at the weekend. But the Parisians have been largely dominant in Ligue 1.

It’s Bayern that has had the more worrying start, and Wednesday reflected that. A loss at Hoffenheim and a home draw against Wolfsburg have heaped early pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti. PSG piled on even more.

Man United romps

It’s now seven goals for, one against after two Champions League rounds for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Romelu Lukaku scored two more for the Red Devils in Moscow against CSKA:



United was untroubled for most of the night, in part thanks to some horrendous CSKA defending.

Anthony Martial, handed a start by Mourinho, was impressive on the left. He assisted on both of Lukaku’s tallies, and grabbed a goal himself from the penalty spot. United cruised to a 4-1 victory. CSKA’s only consolation came in the 90th minute.

Barcelona squeaks by Sporting

Barcelona had a difficult night in Lisbon. For much of the first half, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were starved for chances. Early in the second, though, they went ahead without creating a true chance. Sporting defender Sebastian Coates unintentionally bundled the ball over his own goal line after a teammate failed to clear a Messi free kick:


The Catalan side now leads the group by three points after two matchdays.

Qarabag scored its first-ever Champions League goal …

But the Azerbaijani side couldn’t quite pick up its first-ever Champions League point. It fell to Roma 2-1 in Baku. Qarabag, which reached the group stage for the first time in its history after a qualifying playoff victory over FC Copenhagen, cut Roma’s early lead in half after 28 minutes:


Striker Dino Ndlovu sent a header inches wide of the post in the dying minutes. Roma held on, and is three points clear in second place in Group C.

Other scores

FC Basel 5-0 Benfica
Anderlecht 0-3 Celtic
Juventus 2-0 Olympiacos

Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.