Atletico Madrid were pipped to top spot in Champions League Group A by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday as they were held to a goalless draw by Club Brugge in Belgium.
The Spanish outfit needed a win to guarantee first place, or hope that Dortmund did not win in Monaco.
But Dortmund triumphed 2-0 in the principality as Atleti drew a blank against a lively Brugge side, who very nearly snatched victory 15 minutes from time when substitute Luan Peres had a header saved by the foot of Jan Oblak.
Antoine Griezmann saw Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath make a superb stop to deny him with Atleti's best chance of the game in the first half.
Despite Brugge's fate being settled, they contributed to a fantastic pace at the start of the match, although the first real opening fell to their visitors, with Thomas Partey denied by Horvath from 12 yards.
Stefano Denswil then fizzed a right-footed strike just wide of the left-hand upright at the other end, before Saul Niguez cut the ball back agonisingly behind Thomas Lemar with Horvath beaten.
Lois Openda’s appeals for a penalty on only his third start for the club rightly fell on deaf ears after he went down softly under pressure from Francisco Montero, and Oblak was equal to a curling Denswil free-kick after 24 minutes.
Horvath had to be alert a minute later to expertly tip over Griezmann's dipping strike – a fantastic save that even earned praise from the France international.
The energy of the first half disappeared after the break and Atleti frustrations grew as the Brugge defence refused to allow Griezmann to make an impact.
And Peres almost secured a memorable victory for the home side when he met Ruud Vormer's cross with a downward header, only for Oblak's well-placed boot to get in the way, with the ball then bouncing behind off the Brugge player.
Atleti's desperation saw Koke resort to an ambitious shot from distance that missed the target, and substitute Angel Correa failed to get the telling touch in a goalmouth scramble two minutes from time.
90'+ | 0-0 | FULL-TIME IN BRUGES. Our @ChampionsLeague group stage comes to an end.
See you in the Last 16!#AúpaAtleti #BrujasAtleti #UCL pic.twitter.com/sqSoHYflWP — Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 11, 2018
What does it mean? Tough draw for Atleti
Failing to top the pile could prove costly for Atleti, who miss out on head-to-head goal difference to Dortmund. Instead of going into the last 16 as one of the seeded sides, they are now potentially on a collision course with the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City or Juventus, should they all clinch their groups on Wednesday.
Horvath heroics give Brugge confidence
It would have been so easy for Brugge to sit back and take it easy, knowing any exertions would have no impact on the outcome of their Champions League campaign, with third place secure no matter the result.
But the hosts offered plenty going forward in the first half and did so safe in the knowledge that Horvath was on guard at the back – his backtracking save from Griezmann a highlight of the evening.
Griezmann fails to fire
That strike was the only real flash of quality we saw from Griezmann for the duration of the match.
Atleti struggled to bring the World Cup winner into the game and, when they did, the hosts' well-drilled defence was on his case to snuff out any potential danger.
Key Opta Facts:
- Brugge have not won any of their last nine home matches in European competition (W0 D4 L5) and have failed to score in six of these games. Their last home win in Europe came in November 2015 against Legia Warsaw.
- Atletico have kept a clean sheet in 48% of their Champions League games (39/82) – the best ratio of any team to have played more than 10 games in the competition.
- Diego Godin made his 50th Champions League appearance for Atletico, making him the second player to reach the milestone for the club in this competition (Koke, 54 games).
- Atletico have recorded nine 0-0 draws since the start of the 2014-15 Champions League campaign; three more than any other side in the competition.
- Oblak has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Champions League since his debut in September 2014 (21).
Atleti are in LaLiga action at Real Valladolid on Saturday, while Brugge will be looking for a return to winning ways domestically at Kortrijk on the same day, after suffering defeat to Waasland-Beveren last time out.