Atletico Madrid booked their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League as Antoine Griezmann’s last-gasp goal secured a 2-1 win over Rostov at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.
Diego Simeone’s men had won all three of their previous Group D fixtures and knew that a fourth victory would secure one of the top two spots in the pool with two matches to spare.
The home side looked impressive once they hit their stride and Antoine Griezmann’s fine improvised opener was just rewards for their play.
However, Rostov soon hit back and Sardar Azmoun became the first player to score against last season’s runners-up in this year’s Champions League to make it 1-1.
Diego Godin, Fernando Torres and Filipe Luis all wasted good chances as Atleti sought a winner, but in the second half Rostov appeared impenetrable at the back and their approach looked destined to yield a commendable point.
But a clever Griezmann finish deep into stoppage time gave Atleti the win to take them to a maximum 12 points from four matches, while Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win over PSV in Eindhoven also sees them reach the last 16.
Atleti were ponderous in the early stages and Christian Noboa sent a stinging 25-yard volley into the hands of a relieved Jan Oblak after Stefan Savic botched his clearance in the 15th minute.
That seemingly sparked Atleti into life and Griezmann darted in from the right on the break before slipping a pass through for Yannick Carrasco, who was denied by Timofei Kalachev’s last-ditch block.
And Atleti went ahead in the 28th minute. Carrasco’s lofted pass deflected towards Griezmann, who beat Soslan Dzhanaev with a sublime acrobatic effort.
Their joy was short-lived, though, as Rostov hit back two minutes later. Dmitri Poloz’s throughball found Azmoun on the right of the area and he coolly slotted into the bottom-left corner.
Fernando Torres should have restored Atletico’s lead just before the break, but he could not make a proper connection with Sime Vrsaljko’s cross.
Atleti continued to put Rostov under unrelenting pressure after the break and Vrsaljko’s driven cross in the 54th minute caused problems, but Torres’ eventual head went well wide.
Rostov showed little desire to go in search of a win as they sat back and absorbed pressure, and a frustrated Atleti resorted to long-range efforts as the full-time whistle approached.
But just when it looked like the scores would stay level Griezmann popped up with a dramatic injury-time winner.
The forward latched onto a punt into the area to loft his effort over Dzhanaev, and Rostov’s furious protests for offside fell on deaf ears as the ball had come off the head of their own defender Alexandru Gatcan.