MADRID - Atletico Madrid qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven behind closed doors at the Calderon on Wednesday. The Primera Liga club were serving the one-match punishment from UEFA for the crowd problems that marred their home victory over Olympique Marseille in October. Simao Sabrosa and Maxi Rodriguez struck in the first half as Atletico dominated but PSV scored two minutes into the second half through in-form striker Danny Koevermans. The Dutch side grew in confidence but Atletico held firm for the win despite some nervous moments near the end. Liverpool also progressed from Group D after a 1-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday. The game may have been played behind closed doors but a few hundred of Atletico's hardcore fans congregated on the street outside and did their best to cheer the side on with a steady stream of songs that echoed around the empty 55,000 seat stadium. "It was a moving experience to have the fans outside on a cold night, urging the team on. The players appreciated it and it helped them to victory," Atletico coach Javier Aguirre said. "It's a big step forward for the club to be one of the best 16 in Europe. They deserve it." BITTERLY COLD On a bitterly cold evening, Atletico broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when the visitors failed to clear a cross from the right and Simao stabbed the ball home from close range. After a short delay there was a burst of cheering from outside the stadium from fans listening on radios, and a recording of a crowd celebrating came out across the stadium PA system to add some atmosphere. Andreas Isaksson saved a point-blank header from Raul Garcia as the home side continued to dominate but could do nothing about Maxi's powerful shot in the 28th minute, when his defence only half-cleared a corner. Having offered little in the first half PSV scored soon after the restart, when a corner was flicked on by Danko Lazovic at the near post and Koevermans scored from close range. Isaksson was quick to deny home substitute Florent Sinama Pongolle midway through the second half and a minute later Gregory Coupet pushed Balazs Dzsudzsak's long-range effort over the bar. The ball pinged dangerously round the Atletico area in the last few minutes with Isaksson joining the rest of his side in the area for a string of corners, but to no avail.
26 November 2008
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