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AC Milan vs. Atlético Madrid: Final score 0-1, Diego Costa delivers late suckerpunch

Diego Costa scored late in Atlético Madrid's Champions League round of 16 first leg with AC Milan, as the Spaniards take a fortuitous away goal back to the Calderón.

Marco Luzzani

Atlético Madrid picked up a narrow 1-0 victory away at the San Siro in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with AC Milan. The Serie A strugglers were surprisingly the better side for much of the match, though Diego Costa's late suckerpunch secured the Spaniards a crucial away goal.

Ít looked like Milan were in for a long night when Atléti dominated possession in the opening ten minutes, though the rossoneri successfully weathered the early storm, before long finding themselves in the ascendency. A Kaká snapshot smashed off the bar after a quarter of an hour, as the San Siro roared and the momentum swung the hosts' way.

Within a few minutes they'd rattled the woodwork a second time, with a deep cross from a lively Adel Taarabt flicked against the post by Andrea Poli. Milan were the better team, with Atléti's vicious counter-attacks nowhere to be seen. Clarence Seedorf's defence was holding up fine. The game most certainly wasn't following the script.

However, Milan failed to convert their first half dominance into a goal, with Kaká and Mario Balotelli both missing further speculative efforts before the whistle blew. An ominously threatening second half opening from Atléti suggested that they'd be made to pay.

But, once again the Spaniards' dominance quickly faded, with Milan successfully soaking up the little pressure which came their way. It was a second half with few opportunities created, though once again Seedorf had the upper hand on Diego Simeone. The electrifying Atléti looked strangely subdued.

Then, inside the final ten minutes, came the suckerpunch. Surprise, surprise, it was the red-hot Costa who was on hand to deliver it. A rare Atléti corner was flicked on at the near post by Milan defender Ignazio Abate, right into the path of the unmarked Brazilian. His powerful header beat Christian Abbiati at the near post, and the visitors had an away goal.

Milan have been eliminated at this stage of the Champions League in four of the last five seasons. Barring a big upset in the reverse fixture in the Calderón, it'll be more early knockout disappointment for the rossoneri.

AC Milan: Abbiati; Emanuelson, Bonera, Rami, De Sciglio (Abate 26'); de Jong, Essien; Taarabt, Kaká, Poli (Constant 85'); Balotelli (Pazzini 77').

Atlético Madrid: Courtois; Insúa, Godín, Miranda, Juanfran; Koke, Turan (Rodríguez 74'), Suárez, Gabi; Costa, Garcia (Adrián 80').

Goals: Costa (83').