Ten-man PSV Eindhoven battled to a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday, comfortably surviving more than 20 minutes after a red card to striker Gaston Pereiro.
PSV coach Phillip Cocu said before the match that both sides would likely settle for 0-0, but he was far happier than Diego Simeone with the goalless stalemate after PSV held on after Pereiro’s dismissal for two senseless fouls.
“I am very satisfied with this result,” Cocu said. “I said beforehand that if we could keep a clean sheet at home it would put us in a good position for the second leg.”
With its numerical advantage from the 68th minute, Atletico pressed forward relentlessly but could not find a way through PSV’s defence.
“The only thing we missed was scoring a goal,” Simeone said.
In Eindhoven, the home team was missing captain and striker Luuk de Jong, who was suspended after picking up a yellow card in the group-stage victory over CSKA Moscow. Cocu instead started Pereiro up front, but the Uruguayan made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons.
In a major boost for PSV, veteran Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado was fit to play his first match since injuring a hamstring on Jan. 30 and he made his presence felt.
Guardado repeatedly pounced on loose balls in front of his defence and spread them wide to clear danger, while also setting up attacks. He also intercepted a dangerous 52nd-minute cross just in front of Atletico’s Luciano Vietto.
The home fans gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 75th minute.
The Mexican’s performance, “shows how important he is for this team,” Cocu said.
PSV, the 1988 European champion that was back in the Champions League knockout stage for the first time since 2007, won all three of its group stage matches, while 2014 runnerup Atletico was unbeaten on the road as it topped Group C.
Atletico had the best chances of a tight first half, with defender Jeffrey Bruma and goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet ensuring the home team went into halftime on level terms at a sold-out PSV Stadium.
Bruma came to Zoet’s rescue with a goal-line clearance in only the fourth minute after Vietto had run onto a perfectly weighted long pass from Gabi and chipped the ball over the advancing keeper.
On the half hour, it was Zoet who saved PSV by sprinting off his line to block a shot by striker Antoine Griezmann.
Just a minute later, Davy Proepper had PSV’s best chance of the match, but poked the ball straight at Jan Oblak in Atletico’s goal after a quick exchange of passes with Pereiro.
Atletico moved up a gear after the break, though it was PSV that came closest to scoring early in the second half when Atletico midfielder Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion slid in to intercept a cross from the left and almost deflected the ball into his own net.
The match was transformed by Pereiro’s sending off, with PSV largely forced to defend and Atletico pouring forward in numbers, searching in vain for an away goal to take to the second leg in Madrid next month.
“PSV is a good team and they now have the advantage that an away goal counts double, but we will have the Vicente Calderon stadium crowd behind us,” Simeone said.Report Typo/Error