Champions League: Atletico off target in 0-0 draw at Roma

2017-09-12 14:26:42

ROME (AP) Atletico Madrid's stated bid to finally break through and win the Champions League got off to a slow start with a scoreless draw at Roma on Tuesday.

Diego Simeone's Spanish side had the majority of the chances - including one first-half effort that was cleared off the line by a defender - but was largely inaccurate in front of the goal.

''We had three or four great chances in the first half and we did what we wanted in the second half when Roma's pace slowed,'' Simeone said. ''Unfortunately we lacked what's most important in football - scoring a goal.

''I thought we played a great match,'' Simeone added. ''But in football, the aesthetic part isn't what's most important. It's scoring goals.''

Atletico and Roma dropped behind Chelsea in Group C after the London club routed Azerbaijani side Qarabag 6-0 in the other group match.

Atletico has finished runner-up twice in the last four editions of the tournament and was a semifinalist last season. All four campaigns have ended in defeat to city rival Real Madrid.

Atletico has won its group in each of those seasons.

Roma returned to the competition after year-long absence yet the Stadio Olimpico was far from full for the club's first European match since the retirement of longtime captain Francesco Totti.

Atletico standout Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez each wasted excellent looks at the goal early on.

The visitors were preparing to celebrate when Koke looked set to finish off a counterattack but Roma's reliable center back Kostas Manolas cleared the danger off the goal line.

Approaching the hour-mark, Luciano Vietto was set up nicely with only Roma goalkeeper Alisson to beat but his chip shot was tipped over the bar by the Brazil international.

Niguez was then set up perfectly in the center of the area but aimed his shot directly at Alisson - who had a terrific performance - and missed again from close-range in the 90th.

''We have to compliment their goalkeeper,'' Simeone said. ''He made some great saves.''

Roma's best chance came from Radja Nainggolan with a low, powerful effort following a corner that was stopped by goalkeeper Jan Oblak near the post.

Roma's poor fitness level was also a factor when it conceded three late goals in a loss to Inter Milan in the second round of Serie A.

''We were no longer lucid in the second half, partly due to our physical condition,'' Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. ''But the result today is positive.''

Simeone and Di Francesco gesticulated on the touchlines with the same energy they used to display against each other in the Rome derby in the Olimpico stadium as players - Simeone for Lazio and Di Francesco for Roma.

---

More AP Champions League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/ChampionsLeague

---

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf