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Griezmann stunner helps keep Atletico Champions League hopes alive

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Griezmann stunner helps keep Atletico Champions League hopes alive

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MADRID (Reuters) – Antoine Griezmann’s spectacular scissors-kick helped earn Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Roma on Wednesday to keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League last 16. The striker scored his first goal in nine games in the 69th minute before setting up Kevin Gameiro for the second in the closing stages to silence his critics. Diego Simeone rotated his side, appearing almost to give up on qualification, but the 2014 and 2016 finalists stayed true to their motto, ‘Never stop believing’, to earn their first win of the competition and take things down to the final match of the group phase on Dec. 5. Atletico are two points behind Roma and must beat group leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and hope Qarabag get at least a draw in Italy if the Spanish side are to qualify. Simeone chose to play midfielder Thomas Partey at right back, replacing Juanfran, who was ruled out shortly before the game with a hamstring injury. Key defender Diego Godin was rested while Stefan Savic’s suspension meant Lucas Hernandez joined Jose Gimenez at the back — an untested pairing in a makeshift defence. At the other end veteran striker Fernando Torres, handed his first start since the opening day of the season in August, struggled to make an impact, while both Antoine Griezmann and Koke failed to reach Yannick Carrasco’s dangerous low cross. Roma were on top, with Diego Perotti giving Partey a torrid time, although Atletico came closest to scoring in the first period when Augusto Fernandez beat Alisson with a deflected long-range strike, but the goal was chalked off after he controlled the ball with his arm in the build-up. Simeone took off Fernandez, who was making only his second start of the season, for Angel Correa and moved to an attacking 4-2-4 formation as the hosts chased the second-half goal that would keep them in the competition. It eventually came at the end of a neat team-move, with Correa crossing and Griezmann volleying home in acrobatic fashion at the far post. French striker Griezmann, who was booed by Atletico fans after failing to find the net in the derby clash with Real Madrid on Saturday, then played in Gameiro, who squeezed home from the tightest of angles to seal the win.

(Reporting by Rik Sharma,; Editing by Neville Dalton)
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