Atletico Madrid 2 Aberdeen 0
Aberdeen’s hopes of progressing through to the next round of the UEFA Cup suffered a major blow tonight as they were beaten 2-0 by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
Diego Forlan and an own goal from Dons goalkeeper Jamie Langfield at the Vicente Calderon leaves Aberdeen with just one point from three games.
Despite the loss, Jimmy Calderwood’s men still have an outside chance of claiming one of the three qualifying berths in Group B.
However, to do that they must beat FC Copenhagen in their final match and hope results elsewhere go their way.
Aberdeen had won all three of their previous encounters with Spanish sides down the years, including that famous night in 1983 when they beat Real Madrid to win the Cup Winners’ Cup under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Calderwood challenged the current crop of players to emulate the club’s great European nights against Atletico, but it was not to be in the end as they were beaten by a dominant home side.
Atletico had scored 15 and conceded 10 in their previous four home games, and the way the Spaniards started this game another goal glut looked on the cards.
They went close through former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia in the opening minute, before Mariano Pernia struck the inside of Langfield’s left-hand post with a 25-yard effort two minutes later.
Sergio Aguero then broke through the Aberdeen defence in the seventh minute, with only a last-gasp tackle by Richie Byrne denying the in-form Argentinian a clear shot no goal.
Atletico goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was finally given something serious to deal with in the 27th minute when he was forced to dive low to his right to keep out Scott Severin’s long-range free-kick, but otherwise it was all the home side.
Luis Garcia twice went close before the Rojiblancos finally took the lead right on the stroke of half-time.
Aguero was brought down inside the area by the sliding Michael Hart and former Manchester United striker Forlan stepped up to send Langfield the wrong way from the spot.
To make matters worse for Aberdeen coach Calderwood, he was forced to make two changes in the opening half, with Jackie McNamara – who was carried off on a stretcher – and James Smith both departing, and Chris Clark and Jeffrey De Visscher taking their places.
Atletico coach Javier Aguirre made a change at the break, sending on Portuguese winger Simao Sabrosa for Aguero, but Calderwood understandably opted to keep his final change in hand.
The hosts continued to boss the game at the start of the second half, and forced several corners which, to be fair to the visitors, were fairly comfortably dealt with by the Aberdeen defence.
The home side actually looked to be running out of ideas when, thanks to a stroke of luck, they netted their second goal on the hour-mark.
Simao stepped forward after Atletico had won a free-kick 25 yards out, and although his effort struck the inside of Aberdeen’s right-hand post, the rebound then hit the diving Langfield before nestling into the net.
It was an unfortunate way to concede for Aberdeen, but Atletico were probably worth their two-goal lead after dominating both possession and territory.
The Dons had a great chance to pull a goal back with 20 minutes to go after winning a corner on the left.
The flag-kick found its way through to the far post where Lee Miller was standing unmarked, but the 24-year-old failed to get a decent connection on his shot with the goal at his mercy.
De Visscher then went close a few minutes later with an effort that just cleared Abbiati’s crossbar, although it looked to be more of an attempted cross that the substitute had miscued.
After being on the back foot for most of the match, Aberdeen were beginning to look more threatening, although at 2-0 down they had little choice but to push men forward.
Calderwood then took his final throw of the dice with 15 minutes remaining, sending on Chris Maguire for captain Scott Severin to add extra options up front.
Aberdeen continued to look the more dangerous side in the closing stages, and Clark sent a shot from the edge of the area just over the bar with Abbiati motionless.
That was as good as it would get for the Scottish side though, and Atletico saw out the final 10 minutes with few scares.