Sports

Atletico Madrid reach Champions League Q-finals after penalty shoot-out victory over Bayer Leverkusen

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

ATLETICO MADRID 1 LEVERKUSEN 0 (Agg Score: 1-1 Atletico Madrid win 3-2 on penalties.)

Mario Suarez netted after 27 minutesĀ to hand the hosts the lead on the night.

But with no other goalsĀ in normal time, the match went to extra-time and penalties, thanks to the German side's 1-0 first-leg lead.

And after Fernando Torres had put Atletico 3-2 ahead, Stefan Kiessling missed Bayer's decisive spot-kick to send their opponents through to the last eight.


Bayer Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling reacts after missing the last penalty as he is comforted by Bernd Leno and Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak during the penalty shootout.

Mario Mandzukic started in place of Torres for the Spanish champions, with the on-loan AC Milan striker dropped to the bench as they aimed to turn things around following defeat in Germany.

The hosts had a half-chance early on before the Leverkusen defence made light work of it as Atleti pressed forward with a corner moments later, but Koke's in-swinging effort from the left was well cleared by Roberto Hilbert before visiting goalkeeper Bernd Leno kept out Koke's next attempt.

Diego Simeone's men won a free-kick after 15 minutes, taken by Koke 30 yards out.

The Spain forward managed to lift the ball over the opposing wall of defenders but Leno had it under control as he coolly kept it out with an easy catch.

Down at the other end of the pitch, seconds later, Bayer could have taken the lead from a corner in their first real chance of the game but Mandzukic toe-poked Son Heung-min's strong effort clear.

Midway through the first half, Atletico suffered a blow as goalkeeper Miguel Moya sustained what looked like a hamstring injury as he made a diving save and had to be replaced by 22-year-old Slovenian Jan Oblak.


Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya (C) is helped by team's assistants after being injured.

The hosts finally got the reward for their early dominance after first winning the battle of the headers.

Ruben Cani's header finally came to ground and Suarez pounced on the ball just outside the 18-yard box and sent it past a diving Leno into the bottom corner - taking a deflection off Omer Toprak on the way in.

Mandzukic came close to doubling Atletico's lead on the half-hour before Antoine Griezmann's free-kick went straight into the wall minutes later, while Suarez fired a long-range effort wide and Cani's header went over the crossbar as the home side searched for a second goal.

Meanwhile, Oblak did well to hold out a threatening chance from Bayer just before the break, diving forward at full-stretch to collect Josip Drmic's goal-bound shot and deny an equaliser.

The home side came out with more determination as the second half got under way and tried to break down the visiting defence from the start, while Hakan Calhanoglu tested Oblak at the other end, with Bayer sending out a statement the tie was still wide open.

Leno did well to punch Koke's corner clear just before the hour mark before Oblak was called into action again in the Atleti goal as he comfortably caught Karim Bellarabi's long-range effort.

Both sides began to dig deep as they searched for a late winner with Kiessling firing over for the away side, while Simeone brought on Torres to give his troops some fresh firepower before the match went to extra-time.

Kiessling was first to threaten for the visitors but Oblak was well placed to keep him out, while Raul Garcia almost stole it for last year's losing finalists but his long-range effort went wide.

With time running out, Simon Rolfes drilled a shot past the post while down at the other end of the pitch, Leno held out Torres' header as penalties approached.

Garcia sent his effort over the bar for Atleti before Calhanoglu tapped his poor effort kick to Oblak.

The next three - by Griezmann, Rolfes and Suarez - were all fired into the top-right corner as the hosts led 2-1 with Toprak's effort going over before Leno saved Koke's shot - with Gonzalo Castro finally levelling for Bayer.


Photos: AFP, Reuters

Torres made no mistake as he struck the fifth Atletico spot-kick into the bottom corner before Kiessling's miss handed the hosts victory. - Sporting Life

atletico madridBayer LeverkusenChampions League