Real Madrid will take a slender 1-0 advantage into the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie following victory over 10-man Atalanta in Bergamo on Wednesday evening.
The complexion of the game was dramatically altered just 17 minutes in when Remo Freuler was sent off for bringing down Ferland Mendy on the edge of the Atalanta box, as the Real man burst towards goal.
Despite playing over 70 minutes with ten men, the Italian side turned in a resolute defensive performance and largely restricted the Spanish champions to half-chances. However, La Dea’s resistance was finally broken four minutes from time, with Mendy again the protagonist as he curled a fabulous effort from the edge of the box into the corner of the net.
Let’s get into some player ratings…
Pierluigi Gollini (GK) – 6/10 – Made a big reaction save on the stroke of half-time to deny Varane.
Rafael Toloi (CB) – 8/10 – Made an important block to send a goal-bound Isco effort wide in the first half. Still charged forward adventurously on occasions despite Atalanta’s one-man deficit.
Cristian Romero (CB) – 7/10 – Question marks over the entire Atalanta back three for Freuler’s sending off, with Mendy and Isco both afforded acres of space to play through them with ease. Otherwise an unreal defensive shift from the hosts.
Berat Djimsiti (CB) – 7/10 – Threw himself in front of anything as Atalanta put in a huge defensive performance to keep the tie alive.
Joakim Maehle (RWB) – 7/10 – Turned in a resolute defensive performance as Real endured a frustrating evening.
Marten de Roon (CM) – 6/10 – A big defensive shift, but struggled to get on the ball following the sending off.
Remo Freuler (CM) – 3/10 – Sent off after 17 minutes when, as the last man, he brought down Mendy on the edge of the box – slightly harsh on Freuler.
Matteo Pessina (AM) – 5/10 – Dropped into a deeper central midfield role following Freuler’s sending off. Tireless and dogged but struggled to create anything.
Robin Gosens (LWB) – 7/10 – Restricted in his ability to get forward but put in a big defensive shift as Real struggled to break Atalanta down.
Luis Muriel (FW) – 5/10 – Dragged Atalanta’s most promising first-half opening wide from the edge of the box. Largely forced to lead the line on his own, replaced after 55 minutes.
Duvan Zapata (FW) – 5/10 – Forced off with injury after half an hour having not had a sniff of goal.
Mario Pasalic – 6/10
Josip Ilicic – 5/10
Jose Luis Palomino – 5/10
Ruslan Malinovskyi – 5/10
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 6/10 – Largely a spectator as Atalanta rarely threatened the Real goal.
Lucas Vazquez (RB) – 6/10 – Got forward at any given opportunity. Rarely tested defensively, such was Real’s dominance in possession.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 6/10 – Saw a headed opportunity well saved on the stroke of half-time. Largely untroubled defensively.
Nacho (CB) – 7/10 – Had an adventurous charge through the Atalanta back line in the first half and saw his effort flash across the face of goal, and made an important interception to prevent Muriel being played clean through on goal.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 8/10 – Fouled on the edge of the box as he attempted to burst through, resulting in Atalanta being reduced to ten men. Bent home a fabulous strike from the edge of the area to finally open the scoring.
Casemiro (CM) – 6/10 – Passed and passed all evening as Real dominated possession. Perhaps fortunate to not be shown a second yellow for a dive in the second half.
Luka Modric (CM) – 7/10 – Saw one effort fly over in the first half, and another trickle just wide in the second.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 6/10 – Almost unlocked the Atalanta back line with a dangerous free-kick delivery on the stroke of half-time. Effortlessly sprayed the ball about all evening, but struggled to unpick the Atalanta defence.
Isco (AM) – 6/10 – Saw a first-half effort deflect wide, before slipping Vinicius Junior through with a delightful nut-megged pass.
Marco Asensio (FW) – 6/10 – Produced a teasing cross begging to be turned home in the latter stages of the first half. Otherwise largely frustrated by the Atalanta back line.
Vinicius Junior (FW) – 6/10 – Instrumental in Freuler’s sending off, finding Mendy with a probing through-ball. Replaced just before the hour mark.
Mariano – 6/10
Sergio Arribas – 6/10
Hugo Duro – 6/10