PORTO, Portugal — Canadian international Stephen Eustaquio scored as Porto defeated Atlético Madrid 2-1 in Champions League play Tuesday to finish atop Group B.
Brazilian winger Galeno beat Atletico defender Stefan Savic to the ball down the left flank, headed toward the penalty box and sent in a low cross than an onrushing Eustaquio hammered into the corner of the net before being chopped down in a tackle.
The 24th-minute strike was the second career Champions League goal for the 25-year-old Eustaquio, expected to be one of the main cogs in the Canadian midfield at the World Cup in Qatar.
Eustaquio has three goals and three assists in 26 appearances for Canada.
Porto lost its first two Champions League matches this season and wasn't expected to advance from a group in which Atlético Madrid was the heavy favourite.
But on Tuesday, it was Atlético lamenting a last-place finish and Porto celebrating the group win.
The Porto win also prevented the Spanish team from making it to the Europa League playoffs.
Mehdi Taremi also had a first-half goal for Porto, which won its last four straight Champions League games to take over first place after Club Brugge was held to a 0-0 draw at Bayer Leverkusen in the other match. Porto finished with 12 points, one more than Brugge.
Porto had started its campaign with a last-minute loss at Atlético and an embarrassing 4-0 home defeat to Brugge.
“We didn't get off to a good start but we knew that we only depended on ourselves,” Porto forward Pepê said. “In the end we reached our goal.”
Atlético had already been eliminated and needed a win to secure third place and a spot in the Europa League playoffs. Instead, Leverkusen earned that berth because of a better head-to-head tiebreaker against Atlético, which finished last in a Champions League group for the first time.
It was also the first time since 2009 that Atlético has gone five matches without a win in the Champions League. At that time, it endured a nine-game winless streak that began in 2008.
“We didn’t deserve to make it to the round of 16 and we didn’t deserve to make it to the Europa League,” Atlético forward Antoine Griezmann said. “When you can only win one of your matches in the group stage, that’s what you get. Now all we can do is shut our mouths, work hard and keep fighting.”
The loss will add pressure on coach Diego Simeone in what has been a lacklustre season for Atlético. In the Spanish league, it sits in third place, eight points behind second-place Barcelona and nine points behind leader Real Madrid.
Simeone's usually stout defence looked soft early on and Porto took advantage.
Taremi opened the scoring from close range five minutes into the match for his 12th goal in all competitions this season.
Taremi has scored 12 goals in 17 appearances in all competitions this season. He had scored two goals in each of Porto’s last two Champions League matches.
Griezmann thought he had pulled Atlético closer with a powerful shot into the top of the net in the 68th, but the goal was called off because of a foul by Atlético midfielder Rodrigo de Paul in the buildup.
Atlético scored with an own-goal by Iván Marcano in stoppage time.
Porto has reached the last 16 or better in seven of its last 10 Champions League appearances, four of them during coach Sérgio Conceição’s reign.
It is only the second time in 10 seasons that Atlético failed to advance from the group stage, and first since 2017-18. It won the Europa League the last two times it didn’t advance in the Champions League — in 2018 and 2010.
Atlético coach Diego Simeone started with João Félix playing alongside Griezmann up front as regular starter Álvaro Morata recovered from an injury. It was Félix’s first start in nine matches.
Porto was still without veteran central defender Pepe because of a knee injury.
Griezmann had scored a late winner to give Atlético a 2-1 win in the teams’ first meeting. Since then, Atlético lost at Leverkusen and at Brugge before being held to draws at home by those same clubs. Simeone’s team had a late chance to beat Leverkusen in the previous round but Yannick Carrasco missed a penalty kick awarded by video review deep into stoppage time.
Porto was coming off a 4-0 win at Brugge and a 3-0 victory at Leverkusen. It had also beaten Leverkusen at home after the 4-0 loss against Club Brugge at its Dragão Stadium.
With files from The Associated Press
The Associated Press