Madrid, September 19: Atletico Madrid produced a typically spirited comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Juventus in a thrilling finale to Wednesday’s heavyweight Champions League Group D opener.
Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera levelled in the 90th minute with a thumping header from a corner after defender Stefan Savic had pulled a goal back for the Spaniards in the 70th with a header from close range following a free-kick.
The Spaniards were the brighter side in the first half but Juve went ahead in the 48th minute when Juan Cuadrado sent an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner after a break engineered by a punt forward from defender Leonardo Bonucci.
The Italian champions doubled their lead in the 65th minute following another quick counter as midfielder Blaise Matuidi headed home a cross from Alex Sandro.
But with bullish coach Diego Simeone motivating them from the sidelines and a typically boisterous Wanda Metropolitano crowd roaring them on, Atletico refused to give in.
Atletico and Juve have a point each while Lokomotiv Moscow top Group D after beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 away from home.
“This game will do us a lot of good for the rest of the season, as it makes us believe in the character of the team,” Simeone told reporters.
“We started well then they hit us twice and we were out of the game but we never caved in.”
Juve’s Bonucci did not hide his disappointment at the fact his side could not see out the victory.
“It’s a real shame to concede two goals from set-plays. We had a great performance, but we’ve got to be more focussed, because this has happened too many times now,” he said.
“Everyone has to be more concentrated. A side like ours cannot keep conceding this many goals from set plays.”
Savic’s scrappy goal galvanised Atletico and moments later Spain forward Vitolo forced Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny to make an acrobatic save. (Agencies)