Roma cling on as Atletico waste chances

Saul Niguez squandered a gilt-edged chance to snatch Champions League victory at the death as Atletico Madrid had to make do with a goalless draw against Roma.

The midfielder saw his injury time effort saved by keeper Alisson before smashing the rebound against the post to let the Italians off the hook in their Group C opener.

Diego Simeone had earlier seen his side denied by defender Kostas Manolas and repeatedly by Brazilian Alisson on a night when Roma’s run in the Champions League was extended to just one win in 14 games.

Atletico started brightly with the impressive Saul clipping a post with only three minutes on the clock, and Antoine Griezmann launched an acrobatic attempt high over from Felipe Luis’ left-wing cross eight minutes later.

In the meantime, Roma striker Gregoire Defrel had skewed a snatched effort wide, although he went significantly closer with a well-struck 18th-minute effort.

Griezmann blasted a 26th-minute snapshot just past keeper Alisson’s right post but with the home side starting to make an impact, it was they who almost took the lead with 13 minutes of the half remaining.

Full-back Aleksandar Kolarov pulled a left-wing free-kick square to midfielder Radja Nainggolan, whose skidding right-foot drove took a slight deflection before it was eventually collected by relieved keeper Jan Oblak.

Roma’s disappointment might have been compounded within seconds as Atletico broke at pace for Koke to slide the ball past Alisson only for Manolas to block on the line.

However, Edin Dzeko wasted a glorious opportunity to fire the Serie A side in front eight minutes before the break when he sliced wide from a tight angle.

Luciano Vietto was equally generous 11 minutes after the restart after being played in by Saul’s defence-splitting pass, allowing Alisson to get a hand to the ball, and Saul himself drilled a shot straight into the keeper’s midriff three minutes later when he might have done better.

Alisson excelled himself to claw away Angel Correa’s 63rd-minute attempt after he had squirmed his way into space, and the keeper had to be equally alert to turn away Yannick Carrasco’s dipping shot from distance six minutes later.

Roma twice saw penalty appeals correctly waved away as time ran down, but they rode their luck in stoppage time when Saul was unable to take advantage of the double opportunity which came his way after Koke picked him out from a corner.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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