LEVERKUSEN, Germany (Reuters) – Bayer Leverkusen left it late but pulled off a 2-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to kick-start their Champions League campaign and ease the pressure on coach Gerardo Seoane.
The German side showed more intent to win the game than the visitors and finally found a breakthrough when Robert Andrich found the bottom corner of the net in the 84th minute after a cut-back from Jeremie Frimpong.
Dutch fullback Frimpong was a handful for Atletico when he came off the bench in the second half and also set up the second goal, taken confidently by Moussa Diaby in the 87th.
The win took Leverkusen second in Group B on three points, level with third-placed Atletico.
Leverkusen have lost four of their six Bundesliga games this season and were also beaten by Club Brugge in their Group B opener last week but this was a hugely encouraging performance for them against one of the Champions League heavyweights.
The hosts hit the woodwork twice in the same action in the second half, striker Patrik Schick shooting against the crossbar when one-on-one with Atletico goalkeeper Ivo Grbic, with Adam Hlozek then heading against the post on the rebound.
Schick should have given his side the lead later in the half when he got past Grbic but Atletico defender Felipe did enough to put him off and the ball trickled wide.
Leverkusen struck the woodwork for the third time with a scrappy attempt from defender Odilon Kossounou, while Atletico substitute Rodrigo de Paul came closest in the second half for the visitors, who had loud appeals for a first-half penalty waved away after the ball struck the hand of Edmond Tapsoba.
Leverkusen’s persistence finally paid off when midfielder Andrich beat Grbic, while the volume at the Bay Arena was turned up another notch when Diaby appeared at the far post to slot in a cross from Frimpong, who had been released after some wonderful play from Chelsea loanee Callum Hudson-Odoi.
It was a reverse of fortunes for Atletico, who had beaten Porto 2-1 last week with a goal from Antoine Griezmann deep in added time.
“We thought we had the game under control because nothing was happening but with two counter-attacks they have won the game and we have to do better,” said Atletico captain Koke.
Leverkusen visit Porto in their next Group B outing on Oct. 4, when Atletico play away to leaders Brugge.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)