Atletico Madrid scored twice in the final 12 minutes to ensure VAR would not deny them a crucial first-leg lead in their Champions League knockout clash with Juventus .
Centre back pairing Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin both netted after Alvaro Morata ‘s header had been controversially ruled out, to earn a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metrapolitano.
Despite Diego Simeone stating that he wasn’t fit to play a full 90 minutes, Diego Costa returned to the Atletico starting line-up for the first time since December, meaning Chelsea loanee Morata dropped to the bench.
Massimiliano Allegri had already revealed that Paulo Dybala would start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, but was without Sami Khedira after he was discovered to have an irregular heartbeat.
In a lively opening twenty minutes, it took Costa just eight to pick up the yellow card he needed to earn a suspension for the second leg, for encroachment in the wall.
The visitors threatened, Ronaldo forcing Jan Oblak to palm over the bar with a rocket of a free-kick from range, before Leonardo Bonucci powered a free header over the bar.
Atletico thought they’d been given the chance to edge ahead from the spot when Mattia De Sciglio tripped a rampaging Costa, but VAR correctly ruled that the contact had taken place outside the box, with none of the farcical delay seen elsewhere across Europe on the night, nor the controvery that was to follow here.
Antoine Griezmann pulled a camera save out of Wojciech Szczesny from the resulting free-kick, but the game began to settle into the tight pattern most had been predicting when two of Europe’s canniest sides were drawn against each other.
The interval, however, jolted things back into life, and Atletico missed two glorious chances to take the lead within ten minutes of the restart.
Costa was to blame for wasting the first, sent through by a brilliant first-time pass from Griezmann, only to side-foot wide with Szczesny sat down, but it was the Pole who thwarted the second, somehow reaching back to tip Griezmann’s lob onto the crossbar.
Costa’s typically eventful shift came to an end just before the hour mark, as Simeone sent on Alvaro Morata and, soon after, Thomas Lemar to try and secure a first leg advantage.
He thought he’d done the trick, as Morata powered a sensational header home on 70 minutes, only for VAR to once again take centre stage, and this time, in far more debatable circumstances, deciding that the faintest of touches from the Spaniard in the back of Georgio Chiellini – whose exaggerated dive hardly helped – constituted a foul.
But Atletico, and an incensed Simeone, were not to be denied, getting the slice of luck they deserved when Mario Manduzkic’s corner clearance hricocheted back into danger off Bonucci and Gimenez was first to react.
And when his centre back partner, Diego Godin added a second soon after, also profiting from a Mandzukic clearance that barely left the six-yard box, Atletico had the cushion they so craved.