MADRID (Reuters) - Bearded talisman Arda Turan reignited Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign when he struck 15 minutes from time to give last season’s beaten finalists a 1-0 win at home to Juventus in Group A on Wednesday.
Beaten 3-2 at Olympiakos Piraeus in their opening game two weeks ago, Atletico hassled and harried the Italian champions at the Calderon and were rewarded in the 75th minute when Turkey midfielder Arda poked the ball into the net from close range.
The stocky playmaker, who scored a superb winner in this month’s 2-1 La Liga win at European champions Real Madrid, settled an intense encounter in the Spanish capital in which neither side created many clear chances.
It was the first time the Juventus defence has been breached this season and the first goal their Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has conceded since Atletico’s Uruguay defender Diego Godin beat him at the World Cup finals in Brazil in June.
The victory puts Atletico firmly back on track to qualify from a group that also includes Malmo. The Swedish side won 2-0 at home to Olympiakos to leave all four teams on three points from two matches.
“It was a match full of passion against one of the best teams in Europe,” Atletico fullback Juanfran said in an interview with Spanish television.
“We did some great work and the win was deserved,” added the Spain international, who provided the cross from the right wing for Arda’s goal.
The Atletico fans unveiled a banner reading ”Feared in Europe” shortly before kickoff and the home players went after Juventus from the start.
Coach Diego Simeone’s battling troops were deploying the high-intensity pressing game that served them so well last season when they won La Liga for the first time in 18 years and lost to Real in the final of Europe’s elite club competition.
Mario Mandzukic had Atletico’s best chance of a tight first half when Juventus surrendered possession close to their penalty area in the 25th minute and the Croatia forward smashed a low shot towards goal that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon palmed away. At the other end, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba found space eight minutes later but his curling effort drifted wide. The Serie A side had the lion’s share of possession and came close to a late equaliser when Atletico captain Raul Garcia almost turned a Stephan Lichtsteiner cross into his own net.
“We have to improve in order to create more opportunities to score in away games like this,” Buffon told reporters.
”I think we were controlling the game quite well but we probably had to be braver and go for the victory instead.
”It was a very balanced game. We did not create many opportunities to score but I think the draw would have been a fair result.
“Atletico are known for not giving you space. It’s never easy to play against them because they defend like one block.”
Atletico will travel to Valencia for Saturday’s La Liga game with renewed confidence and their next Champions League outing is at home to Malmo on Oct. 22, when Juventus play at Olympiakos.
Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer