Bayer Leverkusen left it late but pulled off a 2-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to kick-start its Champions League campaign and ease the pressure on coach Gerardo Seoane.
The German side showed more intent to win the game than the visitor and finally found a breakthrough when Robert Andrich found the bottom corner of the net in the 84th minute after a cut-back from Jeremie Frimpong.
Dutch fullback Frimpong was a handful for Atletico when he came off the bench in the second half and also set up the second goal, taken confidently by Moussa Diaby in the 87th.
The win took Leverkusen second in Group B on three points, level with third-placed Atletico.
Leverkusen has lost four of its six Bundesliga games this season and was also beaten by Club Brugge in its Group B opener last week but this was a hugely encouraging performance for it against one of the Champions League heavyweights.
The host hit the woodwork twice in the same action in the second half, striker Patrik Schick shooting against the crossbar when one-on-one with Atletico goalkeeper Ivo Grbic, with Adam Hlozek then heading against the post on the rebound.
Schick should have given his side the lead later in the half when he got past Grbic but Atletico defender Felipe did enough to put him off and the ball trickled wide.
Leverkusen struck the woodwork for the third time with a scrappy attempt from defender Odilon Kossounou, while Atletico substitute Rodrigo de Paul came closest in the second half for the visitor, which had loud appeals for a first-half penalty waved away after the ball struck the hand of Edmond Tapsoba.
Leverkusen’s persistence finally paid off when midfielder Andrich beat Grbic, while the volume at the Bay Arena was turned up another notch when Diaby appeared at the far post to slot in a cross from Frimpong, who had been released after some wonderful play from Chelsea loanee Callum Hudson-Odoi.
It was a reverse of fortunes for Atletico, which had beaten Porto 2-1 last week with a goal from Antoine Griezmann deep in added time.
“We thought we had the game under control because nothing was happening but with two counter-attacks they have won the game and we have to do better,” said Atletico captain Koke.
Leverkusen visits Porto in its next Group B outing on October 4, when Atletico plays away to leader Brugge.
Brugge shocks Porto with 4-0 away triumph
Club Brugge pulled off a shock 4-0 win at FC Porto on Tuesday to win a second successive Champions League Group B game and go top of the standings.
An early penalty converted by Ferran Jutgla was followed by two quick goals after halftime from Kamal Sowah and Andreas Skov Olsen before a late effort from teenage substitute Antonio Nusa put the seal on a massive upset.
The Belgian champion was the worthy winner as it added an unexpected triumph to last week’s home success over Bayer Leverkusen.
Brugge moved to six points, ahead of Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid which has three each after the German side beat the Spaniards 2-0 also on Tuesday. Porto is bottom with no points.
The Belgians, who finished bottom of their group in last season’s campaign, went ahead after 15 minutes when Joao Mario brought down Jutgla and Brugge’s new Spanish signing picked himself up at the Estadio Dragao to convert the spot kick.
Porto, which suffered a last-gasp loss at Atletico Madrid last week, looked out of sorts and failed to conjure up a response with their only real first-half chance falling to winger Pepe, whose effort was smothered by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Two minutes into the second half Jutgla tried to dribble past a maze of defenders on the edge of Porto’s penalty area and, as the ball got away from him it fell fortuitously for Sowah to steer his way through and score from close range.
Porto’s defence had been caught napping by the quick thinking of the Ghanaian striker and was static again as Brugge went 3-0 ahead in the 52nd minute.
Bjorn Meijer hit a low cross from the left that was allowed to go all the way through to the other side where an unmarked Skov Olsen was able to fire home under keeper Diogo Costa.
A frustrated Porto continued to struggle to create chances with a confident Brugge seeing off their efforts, while remaining dangerous on the counter-attack.
Raphael Onyedika’s 86th minute effort came back off the upright but Brugge did get a fourth as Nusa, on his Champions League debut, ran clear of the defence to finish with a calmness that belied his 17 years.
Brugge next hosts Atletico on October 4 when twice European champion, Porto, will attempt to pick up the pieces of its campaign at home to Leverkusen.
Group B results
Bayer Leverkusen 2 (Andrich 84’, Diaby 87’) bt Atletico Madrid 0
FC Porto 0 lost to Club Brugge 4 (Jutgla 15(P), Sowah 47’, Olsen 52’, Nusa 89’)