Antoine Griezmann made sure there was no slip-up by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League this time.
Griezmann scored a goal in each half to lead Atletico to a hard-fought 3-1 win over Belgian Club Brugge on Wednesday, the team’s second consecutive to open the competition.
His second goal broke a deadlock that had the crowd reminiscing about Atletico’s two disappointing draws against Azerbaijani underdog Qarabag last season, results that led to the team’s disappointing elimination in the group stage.
Griezmann had opened the scoring in the first half, but Club Brugge fought back and equalized with a superb long-range shot by Arnaut “Danjuma” Groeneveld just before halftime. Atletico’s third goal was scored by Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion in stoppage time.
“Things got complicated in the first half but we were able to improve and get the victory,” Griezmann said. “It puts us more at ease compared to last season.”
The victory also extended Atletico’s unbeaten streak in all competitions to six matches this season.
Club Brugge, back in the Champions League group stage after a one-year absence, was trying to halt a seven-game losing streak in group games in the competition.
In the other Group A match on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund defeated Monaco 3-0 to stay level with Atletico at the top with six points each. Monaco and Club Brugge are yet to win any points.
Atletico was struggling to break through the defense of the Belgian champions when Griezmann scored the decisive goal with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Diego Costa, who had to be immediately substituted with an apparent muscle injury.
It had been difficult for Atletico in the first half against Brugge until Griezmann got on the board in the 28th minute at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. He controlled the ball with his chest after a cross toward the far post and calmly sent a low side-footed shot into the opposite corner, scoring his first Champions League goal of the season.
The second came from inside the area in the 67th after a back pass by Costa.
The visitors equalized with a tremendous goal by Danjuma, whose booming shot from a difficult angle on the left flank went into the far corner of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak’s goal. The goal stunned the Madrid crowd and ignited the very loud Belgian fans who made the trip to the Metropolitano stadium in the Spanish capital.
“We played a good match, we knew it was going to be difficult,” Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko said. “It was a pity that they got the second goal with Griezmann, but we came here and showed courage. I thought we were going to be able to pull a small miracle, but in the end it wasn’t possible.”
It was only the second goal conceded at home by Diego Simeone’s Atletico this season.
“We started well and got the first goal, but they equalized with a beautiful shot,” Simeone said. “We were able to create more danger in the second half. The team is improving.”
Simeone started with three men at the back but added Filipe Luis as a left back in the second half after Jose Maria Gimenez was injured, reverting to a four-man defense. The move allowed Atletico to press forward more easily and create more scoring chances.
Griezmann also had a 20th-minute goal disallowed for offside.
Atletico had opened with a 2-1 win at Monaco.
On Oct. 24, Atletico visits Dortmund and Club Brugge hosts Monaco.