Juventus headed to the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid for what it hoped will be the first of two trips this Champions League campaign, but it has work to do if there is to be a return journey.
Atletico Madrid's home stadium will host the final on June 1, but to get there, Juventus will need a comeback just to advance past the Spanish power into the quarterfinals after Atletico Madrid's 2-0 win on Wednesday in the first leg of the round of 16. Late goals from center backs Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin lifted the hosts, who had an apparent goal from Alvaro Morata wiped off the board from VAR just before the two scores.
There were early fireworks in the fiery encounter. In the first minute, Antoine Griezmann had his foot caught by a high boot from Blaise Matuidi, as the Juventus midfielder went to block Griezmann's attempt at a highlight-reel volley. Atletico Madrid players pleaded for a penalty, but German referee Felix Zwayer was having none of it and kept play going.
Cristiano Ronaldo was quiet in the opening minutes but made some noise with his first piece of the action. After being fouled as he look to break forward, Ronaldo stepped up to take the free kick, and he drilled a 30-yard attempt on frame, forcing Jan Oblak to palm it over the bar in the ninth minute.
Juventus nearly struck in the 11th minute as well, with Leonardo Bonucci powering a header over the crossbar off a corner kick.
Wojciech Szczesny was forced into his first save in the 15th minute off a long-range blast from Thomas Partey, who drove a low shot through traffic, only for the Polish goalkeeper to make the diving stop.
Szczesny was called into action again in the 29th off a searing free kick from Griezmann, lunging to his right to parry away the shot. The set piece came after a brief moment of controversy, when Mattia de Sciglio was ruled to have pushed Diego Costa down just inside the box. VAR showed that the slight push came just outside the box–and that Costa embellished immensely as he went to ground inside the area–and Zwayer ruled for the free kick instead of the penalty.
Atletico Madrid had its best chance to take the lead five minutes into the second half. Costa was played in behind by Griezmann with only Bonucci and the goalkeeper to beat, but the lumbering forward simply pushed his chance on the breakaway wide of the post, missing everything and spoiling the opportunity.
The hosts nearly scored two minutes later as well. Griezmann ran onto a chip over the top, and his lob was touched off the bar after a sensational fingertip save from Szczesny.
Atletico appeared to take the lead in the 71st minute through substitute striker Morata, when he headed home a cross for the opener, only to VAR have an influential say. Zwayer went over to the monitor to get another look and ruled that Morata pushed Giorgio Chiellini before turning his header on frame, wiping the goal off the board and keeping it 0-0.
The opener came soon after, though. Off a corner kick, Morata headed down, and the ball fell nicely for Gimenez, who struck into the back of the net to make it 1-0 in the 78th minute.
Gimenez's center back partner got involved in the scoring five minutes later. Godin isn't known for his finishing, but he turned in a beauty from a difficult angle, padding Atletico's lead at 2-0.
Juventus nearly pulled an away goal back in the dying minutes when Ronaldo deftly sent a free kick from a tight angle low and to the top of the box when all expected him to shoot on goal. Federico Bernardeschi steered his first-time chance through traffic and on frame, but Oblak saw it all the way, making the clutch save to preserve the 2-0 scoreline.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
The second leg will take place in Turin, Italy, on Tuesday, March 12.