Spanish giants Real Madrid left it late before knicking a 1-0 win over 10-man Atalanta courtesy of a Ferland Mendy 86th-minute strike as they secured a favourable position going into the second leg of their round of 16 tie.
Madrid were the game’s big favourites despite a host of injuries to their key players, and Atalanta had their chances diminished further when midfielder Remo Freuler was sent off in the 17th minute after being adjudged to have denied a goalscoring opportunity.
Atalanta’s goalie Pierluigi Gollini managed to keep the match on a leash and he pulled off a great reaction save to keep out Casemiro’s header from a Toni Kroos’ free-kick at the end of the first half.
However, just as it seemed Atalanta would get a draw out of the match, Mendy received the ball outside the area after a corner and curled a shot into the right side of the net from 20 yards.
The second leg will be in Madrid on 16 March.