Atletico Madrid beats Leicester City on controversial penalty in Champions League quarterfinal first leg

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Griezmann buried the winning penalty for Atleti. (Reuters)
Griezmann buried the winning penalty for Atleti. (Reuters)

On Wednesday night in the Spanish capital, Atletico Madrid scored a first-half penalty to claim a 1-0 victory over Premier League side Leicester City and take a one-goal lead at halftime of the teams’ UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie.

As expected, Atletico Madrid came out as the aggressor. Within the first five minutes, Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco sent a warning shot as he rattled the frame of the Foxes’ goal, but the Spanish side would struggle to break down the English champions throughout the course of the night.

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Although Atletico Madrid managed to control the majority of the first half with regards to possession (64 percent to 36) and shots (11-3), the moment of separation arrived via a controversial call by the match referee.

In the 27th minute, Leicester City midfielder Marc Albrighton found himself in the unenviable position of having to chase down Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann. With the Frenchman approaching Leicester City’s penalty area, Albrighton made the split-second decision to foul the speedy Atletico Madrid forward before he entered the box.

The referee, though, saw the foul differently and immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Replays appeared to show the foul occurring just outside the penalty area, but Griezmann’s speed made it an unusually difficult decision that went in Atletico’s favor.

Griezmann promptly stepped up to the spot and caressed his penalty into the left corner, while Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel jumped the opposite way.

Leading 1-0 at the half at the Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid seemed like a good bet to score a second goal and take full control of the tie. However, Leicester managed to respond in the second half and limited Altleti to only four shots and none on target in the final 45 minutes .

Although Leicester City did not get an away goal, which serves as the tie-breaker after 180 minutes, only trailing by a single goal and heading home to the King Power Stadium for the second leg is hardly an impossible scenario for the European minnows, despite Atletico Madrid’s recent history of reaching two of the past three Champions League finals.

Also, the Foxes were without club captain and central defender Wes Morgan due to a back injury, so only allowing one goal over 90 minutes could be viewed as an accomplishment in many ways. If Morgan can return for the second leg, Leicester City pulling out a shutout and overturning its deficit is well within a reasonable outcome.

On Wednesday, Atletico Madrid did its job and claimed a 1-0 victory at home to take the lead in the tie. But Leicester City has to feel good about its chances with 90 minutes at home coming in a week’s time.

Shahan Ahmed is a soccer columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow Shahan on Twitter: @ShahanLA 

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