Chelsea completed an incredible Champions League turnaround in Spain thanks to substitute Michy Batshuayi’s last-gasp winner.
The Blues had trailed 1-0 at the break to an Atletico side we had more than matched, but Alvaro Morata’s flicked header and Batshuayi’s late finish turned the game on its head and means we return to London with maximum points from two games, and arguably our hardest fixture of the group completed.
Antonio Conte’s men acquitted themselves excellently in a lively atmosphere at the newly opened Wanda Metropolitano stadium, but trailed at half-time after Antoine Griezmann had fired home a penalty after David Luiz was adjudged to have fouled his man at a corner.
It took 15 second-half minutes for us to restore parity, with the excellent Eden Hazard and Morata combining for the Spaniard’s seventh Chelsea goal, and though further chances would come it looked like we would have to settle for a point, only for Batshuayi to pop up at the end of added time to smash home a winner.
Batshuayi had replaced Morata with less than 10 minutes remaining but once again stole the show with what could be a hugely important goal.
Hazard started for the first time this season up alongside the Spaniard, one of four in our line-up, while N’Golo Kante made his 50th Chelsea appearance in a three-man central midfield, with Gary Cahill and David Luiz restored to the line-up to complete a familiar looking three-man defence alongside Cesar Azpilicueta.
Thibaut Courtois was in goal against the team he represented for three years, while on the opposing side was Filipe Luis, a Premier League winner with the Blues in 2014/15, and Fernando Torres, who gave Chelsea fans some wonderful Champions League memories in Barcelona five years ago would feature from the bench.
Morata wasted no time in making a nuisance of himself, twice getting into decent shooting positions inside the opening few minutes after good work from Hazard.
The little Belgian looked to be at his masterful best as he enjoyed a free role off the main striker. First he hit the side-netting after dancing past a defender inside the area, and then struck the post from outside the box having beaten his man with a wonderful feint. It was a strong start against a side with proven pedigree in this competition.
Halfway through the first half, Morata caught another sight of goal when David Luiz, playing despite a fractured wrist, picked him out with a raking diagonal pass inside the area. The forward did well with his header, forcing an athletic save from Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who moments later had to gather another Hazard effort. Thibaut Courtois, meanwhile, was yet to be tested by the home side’s attacking trio of Griezmann, Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco.
Their first sight of goal came with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, when a patient passing move saw Saul Niguez break into the Chelsea area down the right-hand side, but his near-post cross was thwarted by a combination of Courtois and David Luiz before it could reach Griezmann.
Another slick passing move saw Cahill block from Carrasco to force a corner and when that cross came in, David Luiz was penalised for a tug on Lucas Hernandez and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. It looked harsh on the Chelsea man, with grappling from both players. Griezmann made no mistake with his penalty, firing straight down the middle to give the hosts a boost five minutes before the break.
The Blues responded quickly as Marcos Alonso and Cahill each saw shots deflected behind for corners in quick succession, but it could have been worse going into the break when in injury time Courtois parried out a shot from Koke into the path of Correa, but his follow-up was struck wide.
Antonio Conte could count his side extremely unlucky to be behind, and would surely have called for more of the same in the second period.
Cesar Azpilicueta had already created four goals this season and he must have thought it was a fifth when he whipped a teasing ball across the six-yard box. Sadly for us, it was inches ahead of Morata who couldn’t connect to level the scores.
The next time a cross came his way though, there would be no doubt as to the outcome. Hazard was afforded space out on the left and sent an in-swinging cross towards his centre-forward, who did well first to hold off his marker and then to send a glancing header behind Oblak and into the bottom corner.
Conte’s men had come from behind to level at the home of a side renowned for preserving narrow leads. This in itself was an achievement but it nearly got even better within a couple of minutes when Morata caused more mayhem in the Madrid defence, allowing Hazard to cut back to Cesc Fabregas a few yards out, but the ball got caught under the midfielder’s legs and he could only poke agonisingly wide.
The better chances continued to come for the visitors. Morata latched onto a Hazard through-ball and outpaced his marker but clipped his shot just past the post and that looked to be it.
Willian and Batshuayi replaced a tiring front two with 82 minutes on the clock. At this point, you sensed both coaches would take a point and that’s the way it looked like it was going, but you must never write this Chelsea team off.
With the seconds ticking down there was time for one more attack and suddenly the ball dropped to Alonso, whose low right-footed cross was turned in by Batshuayi to silence the home crowd and send the Chelsea fans high above into rapture. It was to be the last kick of the game.
It was Atletico's first ever home defeat to English opposition, and our 10th successive game in Spain without defeat.
More importantly, it means two wins from two and top of the group. Bring on Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
Chelsea (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Fabregas (Christensen 86), Bakayoko, Alonso; Morata (Batshuayi 82), Hazard (Willian 82).
Unused subs Caballero, Zappocosta, Rudiger, Pedro.
Scorers Morata 60, Batshuayi 90+4
Booked David Luiz 39
Atletico (4-3-3): Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Lucas, Filipe Luis; Saul Niguez, Partey (Gimenez 77), Koke; Correa (Gaitan 71), Griezmann, Carrasco (Torres 69).
Unused subs Moya, Savic, Vietto, Gabi.
Scorers Griezmann (pen) 40
Booked Partey 47, Griezmann 54
Referee Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)