YOUNG Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez knocked in a sensational 11th minute strike in the Champions League semi-final first leg to give his team a slender 1-0 lead over Bayern Munich on Wednesday April 27.
Saul left Thiago, Xabi Alonso and Juan Bernat in his wake as he embarked on a slaloming 45-yard run before curling the ball into the corner of the net for a goal that has already been compared to legendary strikes from Ryan Giggs, Ricky Villa and Diego Maradona.
Bayern were stunned during a breathless opening period, as Diego Simeone’s men applied frantic pressure, running directly at the Munich defence whenever they got hold of the ball.
By the end of the first half Bayern had recovered their usual passing game, and the second period became ever-more attritional for the Rojiblancos, setting the scene for yet another magnificent defensive display from a team that seems built to suffer.
Shots from David Alaba, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal were all the German champions could muster and Atleti slowly began to play themselves back in to the game before almost going 2-0 up with 15 minutes left as Fernando Torres struck a post following a fine break by Antoine Griezmann.
Atleti are now 90 minutes from their second Champions League final in three years, although the tie is far from over given Bayern’s remarkable record of one home defeat in 24 games.