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Atletico Madrid seal top spot after beating Benfica in Champions League

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Atletico MadridAtletico Madrid
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Saul Niguez opened the scoring for Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid clinched first place in Champions League Group C after winning their top-of-the-table encounter with Benfica 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz.

Both clubs had already secured berths in the last 16 prior to Tuesday's encounter but top spot was still at stake, and it was Atletico who secured it thanks to goals in either half from Saul Niguez and Luciano Vietto.

Saul finished off a clinical attack to open the scoring in the 33rd minute before Vietto stabbed home Atletico's second in the 55th minute.

Benfica threatened a late fightback when Konstantinos Mitroglou pulled a goal back in the 75th minute, but it proved only to be a consolation in the end.

Although Atletico started the match in first place, Benfica were level on 10 points with the 2014 Champions League finalists and only needed a draw to leap-frog their opponents courtesy of their 2-1 win in Madrid in September.

However, it was the visitors who started the better and Saul almost put them ahead in the 21st minute with a 25-yard shot that Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar did well to tip round the post.

Gabi then drew another save from Julio Cesar, who this time needed to push the ball over the bar, before Atletico took the lead just after the half-hour.

Antoine Griezmann's neat through-pass picked out Vietto's run into the area and the Argentinian, rather than opt for a shot himself, pulled the ball back to the on-rushing Saul to slot home from near the penalty spot.

That sparked Benfica into life and Guedes, Jonas Oliveira and Mitroglou all tried their luck before the break.

None of them could hit the target though, and Atletico made them pay at the start of the second half by doubling their lead.

Yannick Carrasco fired in a low ball from the left and Vietto got ahead of his marker at the near post to divert his shot past Julio Cesar.

Benfica were handed a lifeline back into the match 15 minutes from time when Mitroglou received a Raul Jimenez pass near the penalty spot, spun his marker and slotted past Jan Oblak.

Boosted by that goal, the hosts pushed for what would have been a decisive equaliser in the closing stages and former Atletico forward Jimenez headed wide with seven minutes to go.

Eliseu Pereira then had what proved to be Benfica's final chance but he could not beat Oblak from 20 yards as Atletico held on to top spot, with Benfica having to settle for second.

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