Jan Oblak, Diego Godin rise to the challenge as 10-man Atletico Madrid earn draw
Atletico Madrid withstood an Arsenal bombardment and a referee named Clement Turpin to put one foot in the Europa League final after they somehow smuggled a 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Thursday night.
It all started so badly, with Sime Vrsaljko sent off for two yellow cards with the game's first two tackles -- the only two yellows the referee dished out all night, incidentally -- before five minutes later an apoplectic Diego Simeone was also sent to the stands as things threatened to unravel.
Yet heroic defending and some jaw-dropping goalkeeping from Jan Oblak meant Arsenal only had Alexandre Lacazette's effort to show for their efforts. With eight minutes to go, Antoine Griezmann made them pay, bagging an away goal that could prove the difference come next week. Vintage Atleti.
Defensive resilience at its finest. Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez were colossal, so was Saul Niguez, while words fail to describe Jan Oblak.
Ill-discipline from Vrsaljko could have seen the team unravel. Simeone should know better, too.
Manager rating out of 10
2 -- With your side down to 10 men, to get yourself sent off five minutes later is verging on unforgivable. Simeone at least gets an extra point for lasting longer than Vrsaljko.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 10 -- It is no exaggeration to say without the Slovenian, Atleti would have conceded five or six. His superb flying save from Aaron Ramsey at the death summed him up. Probably the best goalkeeper in the world right now; not my words -- those of Griezmann.
DF Sime Vrsaljko, 1 -- It takes something special to get yourself sent off after nine minutes for two yellow card offences, but the Croatian managed it -- no matter how soft they were.
DF Jose Maria Gimenez, 8 -- Started off nervously as Arsenal threatened to overwhelm Los Rojiblancos, and some wayward passes did not help things. Grew into the game and was imperious in the second period.
DF Diego Godin, 9 -- What a time to put in his best display of the season. Man of the match alongside Oblak and "body on the line" does not quite do justice to how heroic some of his defending was.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 8 -- Another of the backline who was throwing himself in the way of everything. Looked to get forward when he could, but spent the majority of the game camped inside his own half and had the anonymous Mesut Ozil tied up for most of the game.
MF Koke, 6 -- His running stats will make eye-watering reading. Covered so much ground, yet his touch and final ball was lacking and he looked absolutely spent at the end.
MF Thomas Partey, 8 -- Played four or five different positions throughout the game and was, for a long spell, Atleti's most potent attacking threat. A real breakthrough performance.
MF Saul Niguez, 9 -- Another whose running stats will leap out. Unremarkable on the ball but incredible off it, doing the job of two or three teammates at times.
MF Angel Correa 7 -- Fired a shot over the bar when well placed early on. Put in a left wing-back position after the break and performed admirably, however visibly tired and was one of the players hooked as time passed.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 8 -- Not one of his best games, but one of the most memorable. Should have done better when he fired straight at the keeper in the first half, before committing a fatal error that led to the Arsenal goal as he attempted to nutmeg Nacho Monreal unsuccessfully on the edge of his own box. Yet such is his ability, his mere presence forced a mistake from the Arsenal defence and he took full advantage.
FW Kevin Gameiro, 6 -- Had a thankless task once Atleti were down to 10 and unsurprisingly was subbed.
MF Gabi, 7 -- Used his nous in the middle of the park, committing a couple of useful tactical fouls and winning his fair share of free kicks that allowed for priceless time wasting.
DF Stefan Savic, NR -- Looked better at right-back than he has done for a long time in the centre! Stood up to Danny Welbeck brilliantly.
FW Fernando Torres, N/R -- On to waste time and add extra height at defensive set pieces.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.