Saul stunner gives Atletico the edge over Bayern

Atletico will take a slight advantage to Bayern for the second leg thanks to a wonderful Saul Niguez solo effort, as the team's quest to reach a second final in three years grows more likely.

Atletico's Saul Niguez glided past the Bayern defense to beat keeper Neuer at the far post and give the Madrid side an early lead.   -  Reuters

A sensational solo effort from Saul Niguez handed Atletico Madrid a precious 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.

The Spanish under-21 international skipped past four Bayern players before firing into the far corner to give Atletico the perfect start after 11 minutes.

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Bayern dominated for long spells thereafter, but the closest it came to a vital away goal was a thunderous long-range effort from David Alaba that came back off the crossbar.

Atletico will travel to Bavaria for the return next Tuesday looking to complete the job to reach its second final in three years and exact revenge for its defeat to Bayern in the 1974 final.

READ: >Simeone praises 'best' Atletico after Bayern triumph

Bayern lost the first legs of its semifinals in Spain in the previous two seasons to Real Madrid and Barcelona on its way out of the competition.

And it couldn't have made a worse start once more in the Spanish capital as, roared on by a vociferous support, Atletico flew out of the blocks early on.

READ: >Guardiola: Don't compare Saul to Messi

Niguez had already had a long-range effort saved by Manuel Neuer before he opened the scoring in stunning style.


The 21-year-old picked the ball up near halfway and skipped past four half-hearted Bayern challenges before curling a left-footed shot in off the inside of the far post.

READ: >Torres: Great day for Atletico fans

Atletico nearly gifted Bayern an equaliser immediately as Jose Maria Gimenez's miscued clearance pinballed around the area before the Uruguayan atoned for his initial error by clearing off the line.

Bayern was dominant in possession, but struggled to create clear-cut chances against an Atletico side that now hasn't conceded at home in its last seven Champions League knockout ties.

Alaba shot wide from distance, while Douglas Costa's free-kick nearly caught out Jan Oblak at his near post.

Yet, it was Atletico who squandered a big chance to make it 2-0 before the break when Antoine Griezmann's shot from a narrow angle was turned behind by Neuer.

Bayern was completely dominant after the break as Atletico tired and dropped deeper towards their own goal.

Alaba smashed a wonder strike off the underside of the bar from fully 35 yards before Javi Martinez's powerful header from Costa's corner was gratefully grasped by Oblak low to his right.

Guardiola had controversially left Thomas Mueller on the bench despite his 31 goals in all competitions this season.

The future Manchester City boss eventually called upon the German World Cup winner and Franck Ribery in search of a vital away goal.

Costa came close again seconds after Mueller's arrival as his attempted lob over Oblak dipped just over the bar.

Oblak was called into action again to parry an Arturo Vidal piledriver from distance.

Yet, once more Atletico had the best chance to put the tie beyond the German champions in the final stages as Fernando Torres hit the post from Griezmann's fine through ball and Neuer saved Koke's follow-up effort.

Oblak made simple saves from Mehdi Benatia and Vidal in stoppage time as Atletico held out to record its 33rd clean sheet of the season.

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