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Willian miss costly as Chelsea denied top spot by draw with Atlético Madrid

The Europa League awaits Diego Simeone and his side, victors in the semis here three years ago and the beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016 having huffed and puffed through this group to little real effect. In a way, this display rather summed up their Champions League campaign. They led and allowed hope to flare for a while but, in reality, their lead on the night always felt flimsy and, regardless, Roma were busy making it irrelevant in the night’s other Group C fixture. While Chelsea can still thrill at the prospect of the draw to come, Diego Costa, the man who wanted out, will return in Uefa’s secondary competition in the new year. That will feel rather inadequate.

The onus had always been on Atlético to force the pace in a contest they had to claim to stand any chance of extending their involvement in this competition into the new year. Simeone’s side may not have lost since their defeat by Chelsea at the Estadio Metropolitano, but they have drawn too many matches in the period since with their inexplicable stalemates home and away against Qarabag, the group’s whipping boys, having inflicted real damage on their ambitions. Simeone’s histrionics on the touchline, all anguished complaints and livid remonstrations with officials and players alike, betrayed the significance of the fixture. Yet, once Atlético’s initial urgency petered out without reward, the tension rather enveloped them.

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