Dominant Leverkusen upset the odds against Atletico

Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:14pm EST
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LEVERKUSEN, Germany (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen stunned last season's runners-up Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday courtesy of a fine strike by Hakan Calhanoglu.

The Turkey international scored the 57th-minute winner to set Leverkusen, who are struggling for form in the Bundesliga, on the way to their first ever win at this stage of the competition.

"This was a very, very good game from us," goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who twice rescued his team in the first half, told reporters.

"We showed a reaction to the criticism of the past week. We had some bad games but tonight we bounced back."

For Atletico, who were left with 10 men when Tiago was sent off following a second booking in the 76th minute, it was only their second loss in a Champions League away game since September 2013.

The Spanish champions will also be missing key defender Diego Godin for the return leg after the Uruguayan was booked and will be suspended in Madrid.

"They play as they do and they do it well," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

"We each had a clear chance and they took theirs and we didn't. It could have been a worse result. But I am confident for the return leg."

Leverkusen had hoped the European stage would lift their game after a rocky start to the year sent them down to sixth in the Bundesliga.   Continued...

Bayer Leverkusen's Hakan Calhanoglu (C) scores a goal past Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya (L) during their Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match in Leverkusen February 25, 2015.            REUTERS/Ina Fassbender