Chelsea could face PSG, Barca after 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid

Eden Hazard scored Chelsea’s equalizer against Atletico Madrid

Chelsea are on collision course with Barcelona and Paris St Germain after they advanced to the Champions League last 16 – but only as runners-up – after being held by a streetwise Atletico Madrid in their final group game.

As it stands, Turkish side Besiktas are the only other possible opponents for the Blues in the knockout stages.

 

Chelsea had dominated until the opening goal, with Alvaro Morata going close and Eden Hazard almost weaving through the visiting defence.

But Saul Niguez escaped the attentions of Tiemoue Bakayoko to plant home a header from Fernando Torres’ near-post flick-on after 56 minutes.

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Chelsea piled forward as time ebbed away, and Stefan Savic turned Eden Hazard’s cross into his own net as the pressure told.

But, with Roma beating Qarabag in the Italian capital, Chelsea could not find the second goal and the victory needed to regain the lead in Group C.

Chelsea’s knockout equation

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte might well say that his side will need to beat the best anyway to lift the trophy.

Spartak Moscow or Sevilla may yet become possible opponents if Wednesday evening’s matches change the standings in Group E, where Liverpool currently lead the way.

But the unsettling prospect of taking on either free-spending PSG or five-time champions Barcelona over two legs hung over Stamford Bridge at the final whistle.

Chelsea had plenty of chances to leap-frog back over Roma in the group with Morata and substitutes Willian and Michy Batshuayi all missing glorious chances in a frenetic final 15 minutes.

Against Besiktas, whose last taste of Champions League knockout football was in the 1992-93 season, such attacking invention should be enough.

Whether it would undo one of the continent’s superpowers is far less clear.

The end of the road for Atletico

For Atletico Madrid, the draw marked the end of a curiously weak Champions League campaign.

The damage had been done to the Spanish side, semi-finalists last season and runners-up in two of the last four, long before this creditable point however.

Draws at home and away to Azerbaijani underdogs Qarabag earlier in the campaign ultimately left them with too much ground to make up as they finished four points shy of Roma and Chelsea.

The club’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium will instead host Europa League football in 2018. Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa, currently ineligible because of a ban on Atletico registering new players, will be available by then.

His new club, toothless at Stamford Bridge, could do with his trademark snarl.

Antoine Griezmann, who has scored seven goals in an underwhelming campaign, lurked wide and dropped deep, but rarely threatened.

Instead it was strike-partner Torres, on the return to the club where he scored 46 goals in 172 games, who provided the more telling touch, setting up Niguez’s goal before departing to a standing ovation from both sets of fans.

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