Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen - 3 Reasons Why Atleti salvaged a hard-fought victory | UEFA Champions League 2019/20
Diego Simeone's side weren't at their best but they salvaged a hard-fought victory against a resilient Leverkusen side, courtesy of a header from substitute Alvaro Morata.
Teenage sensation Joao Felix was missing for Atleti after picking up an injury against Valencia and the Rojiblancos lacked cohesion up front in his absence.
Jose Gimenez was withdrawn in the opening exchanges of the game with a hamstring problem and Mario Hermoso took his place in the heart of the defence. The Spaniard impressed since coming on and looked assured at the back, alongside fellow new signing Felipe.
Atleti struggled to create clear-cut chances and were made to wait till the 78th minute for the opener, as Renan Lodi's inch-perfect cross was turned in by substitute Alvaro Morata.
The Brazilian full-back was one of the standout players of the game as he contributed to both phases of play. Aside from being resolute defensively, Lodi also supplied the match-winning assist and the 22-year-old produced one of his best performances since his move to the Spanish capital.
As Leverkusen came to the Wanda Metropolitano and refused to sit back, let's look at three reasons why the Rojiblancos registered a hard-fought victory in the Champions League.
#1 Diego Simeone's substitutions did the trick in a cagey encounter
As Atletico looked lacklustre upfront, Simeone decided to freshen things up and introduced Thomas Lemar and Alvaro Morata to turn the tides in his favour.
The pair looked lively since coming on and the home side grabbed a grip on the game in the closing stages.
Lemar added some much-needed energy from the wings and Atleti looked more threatening since his introduction. Morata, on the other hand, produced the most decisive moment of the game as his header from Lodi's inch-perfect ball led to the opening goal of the game.
In a game that came down to the finest of margins, Simeone's substitutes produced the trick for him as the Rojiblancos took a major step towards qualification to the knockout stages.