Atletico Madrid 0 Bolton Wanderers 0(Bolton win 1-0 on agg.): Bolton's determination blunts Atletico assault
Friday 22 February 2008
An admirably resilient defensive performance in Madrid last night prolonged Bolton's European adventure, a hard-earned goalless draw dumping Atletico Madrid out of the Uefa Cup and setting up a last-16 tie against Sporting Lisbon for Gary Megson's side.
Holding a slender 1-0 lead from last week's first leg, Wanderers were perfect defensively in the Spanish capital to claim a famous scalp. "I believe that's the furthest that we've ever been in Europe, certainly for 100 years, and to get to this stage given the teams that we have had to play, it's a great testament to the squad that we've got, not just the team," said Megson.
Despite their first-leg advantage, the odds were still stacked against Bolton, with Atletico never having lost at home to an English club in European competition. However, their poor recent form – they had lost five of their previous eight competitive matches – gave Bolton hope. The visitors more than held their own during a disappointing first half, with Atletico clearly missing the attacking guile of suspended Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, who was sent off in the first leg.
Playing with Kevin Davies as a lone frontman, Bolton made it difficult for the hosts to create many clear-cut chances in the opening 45 minutes. And it was Bolton who came closest to taking the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Stelios Giannakopoulos drew a fine tip-over from the home goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.
However, Atletico made almost all the running in the first half, though clear-cut chances were few and far between. Luis Garcia had arguably Atletico's best chance when Diego Forlan's low cross found him unmarked at the far post but the former Liverpool player blazed his shot over.
Away from the pitch, Spanish riot police were called into action following some trouble behind one of the goals where the Atletico fans are normally housed. It was not immediately apparent what caused the incident but the area behind the goal remained largely empty for the rest of the match.
The second half started where the first left off, Forlan, Pernia and Jurado seeing efforts blocked in rapid succession. Atletico had a shout for a penalty with 10 minutes remaining when Forla's cross struck Jlloyd Samuel, but the referee was unmoved.
Atletico were becoming increasingly frustrated, and the former Arsenal player, Jose Antonio Reyes, tried a speculative effort from 25 yards out that flew harmlessly over as Bolton comfortably saw off the danger en route to celebrating a famous success.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Abbiati; Pernia, Pablo (Mista, 67), Antonio Lopez, Perea; Jurado, Cleber Santana, Maxi, Luis Garcia (Miguel, 54); Reyes, Forlan. Substitutes not used: Falcon, Fabiano Eller, Ze Castro, Alex Quillo, Dominguez.
Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, A O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel; Giannakopoulos (Diouf, 59), McCann (Campo, 58), Nolan, J O'Brien (Meite, 85), Taylor; Davies. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, Teymourian, Alonso, Vaz Te.
Referee: J Granat (Poland).
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