Atletico Madrid held to draw by Astana; Benfica move atop Group C

ASTANA, Kazakhstan —

Atletico Madrid was left frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Kazakhstan’s Astana in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Atletico had the better chances but was unable to break down Astana’s determined defense on a freezing night in Central Asia. Substitute Yannick Carrasco came closest in the last attack of the game when Astana’s Nenad Eric stretched to save his low shot.

Fernando Torres shot wide from a good position in the 32nd minute. After a quiet first half, Atletico threw men forward in search of three points, with Antoine Griezmann dragging a shot wide and Jose Maria Gimenez’s header testing Eric.

While Atletico hit the crossbar twice, it was from a mishit corner and an off-target cross rather than genuinely threatening shots.

Astana started well with Dmitry Shomko forcing Atletico keeper Jan Oblak into a save from a narrow angle and Roger Canas heading over from a cross.

Despite failing to win, Atletico kept its third clean sheet from four group games.

The first Kazakh team in the Champions League group stage had been widely expected to struggle in Group C but Astana remains unbeaten at home after the Atletico game and a 2-2 draw with Galatasaray.

Benfica 2, Galatasaray 1

Central defender Luisao scored in the 67th minute to give Benfica a 2-1 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday and put the Portuguese club two points clear at the top of Group C with two games to play.

Atletico Madrid is second in the group on seven points after being held to a 0-0 draw at Astana. Galatasaray is third with four points.

Raul Jimenez chipped the ball into the visitors’ penalty area for Luisao to poke it into the net from short range. The Brazilian’s goal put Benfica back into the lead after Lukas Podolski leveled the score in the 58th, cancelling out Jonas’ 52nd-minute opener.

Benfica had the best of the game as the Turkish club struggled to contain Jonas and Argentine striker Nicolas Gaitan.

Galatasaray had to wait 25 minutes for its first – and only – first-half shot at goal, courtesy of Wesley Sneijder.

Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera spectacularly denied Gaitan twice in the last 15 minutes before the Argentine was shown his second yellow card and sent off with five minutes left.

Yasin Oztekin squandered a chance to equalize, missing an open goal during a goalmouth scramble in added time.