Football

Griezmann: Oblak is the world's best

Iker Casillas called him a hero, Antoine Griezmann opined that he was the best goalkeeper in the world and Diego Simeone said he was tremendous.

Jan Oblak became an Atletico Madrid hero against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League two years ago and the Slovenian made his mark against the German side again with a virtuoso display yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Despite arriving from Benfica in a big-money transfer worth £13.1 (S$22.6m), he had to played second fiddle to Miguel Angel Moya until the Spaniard got injured during a Champions League round-of-16 tie against Leverkusen in 2015.

Oblak ended the match a hero as Atletico advanced to the quarter-finals after winning a tense penalty shoot-out 3-2.

Oblak hasn't looked back since, although he had to spend 10 weeks on the sidelines this season after dislocating his shoulder in December, but he was at his acrobatic best to keep Leverkusen at bay again at the Vicente Calderon.

The goalkeeper made a stunning triple-save to deny Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland in the second half and made two more impressive stops to keep out Karim Bellarabi to help Atletico secure a 0-0 draw that sent them through to the Champions League quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

Said the 24-year-old custodian: "Sometimes you make three saves, and sometimes they score a goal with the first attempt.

"It is difficult to explain. I reacted quickly and everything went well for me.

"Two years ago I made my Champions League debut here due to Miguel's bad luck and I have great memories of that night because it was when I started to play more."

Former Real Madrid great Casillas took to Twitter to laud the Slovenian, writing: "HERO. Triple save from Oblak to rescue Atletico."

The Atletico No.1's teammate Griezmann added: "Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world, he demonstrates that in every game and he did it again today."

Atletico coach Simeone concurred, saying his goalkeeper has "found his best level".

He said: "It was a very open game, they had chances in the second half and Oblak made some very good saves...

"He's been tremendous. He's found his best level."

His opposite number, Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut, meanwhile, highlighted that Oblak's brilliance was aided by the performance of Atletico's defenders.

He said: "I haven't seen anything like it. I've watched it again and it isn't just him.

"There were many defenders throwing themselves to block the shot.

"You see how this team defend their goal. They are all there to put their foot or any part of their body on the line."

- WIRE SERVICES

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