Atleti overcome Inter on penalties in Champions League thriller

Lautaro Martinez missed the crucial penalty for Inter Milan as Atletico Madrid claimed a shootout victory to move into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Inter held a 1-0 lead from the first leg going into this game and doubled that lead when Federico Dimarco put them ahead after half an hour – but Atleti instantly responded through Antoine Griezmann’s leveller on the night two minutes later.

With the Spanish side still needing a goal to stay in the competition, the home side had to wait until 87 minutes as Memphis Depay scored a slick finish to send the Wanda Metropolitano into bedlam.

With the scores level, both sides missed chances in an eventful extra-time period but could not be separated – so penalties ensued. Alexis Sanchez’s miss was immediately cancelled out by Saul Niguez’s failed effort from 12 yards – before Davy Klaassen missed straight afterwards to hand the shootout advantage to Atleti.

With Martinez needing to score to keep his side in the contest, the Inter captain blazed over – seeing his side’s chances of progression go in the process.

Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez misses in the penalty shootout
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Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez misses in the penalty shootout

“In the end it’s a bit about luck in the shootout,” Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak said after the game. “Because you have to choose the correct side and you have to make the stop.

“If the player takes the kick perfectly, it’s impossible to stop it. Gladly, I was able to make the saves. What matters is the victory and that we made it to the quarter-finals.”

The Champions League represents Atletico’s last realistic chance of a title this season. They were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and sit fourth in LaLiga, 14 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

How Simeone and Atleti did it again

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone celebrates at the end of the game
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Atletico Madrid’s head coach Diego Simeone celebrates at the end of the game

Atletico failed to get a single shot on target in the first leg at the San Siro but began fast, backed by a rocking home crowd in Madrid.

It was Inter, though, who opened the scoring. Nicolo Barella received the ball in the area and pulled it back to the waiting Dimarco who drove his shot straight down the middle past Oblak.

Atletico, now 2-0 down on aggregate, hit back immediately. Koke lifted a pass into the area which two Inter players missed completely as it fell to Griezmann who spun and made no mistake from close range.

Shortly before the break Griezmann was almost in again but his shot was deflected away by Benjamin Pavard with Sommer committed the other way.

Martinez set up two great chances for Inter to finish off the tie but Marcus Thuram and Nicolo Barella failed to take advantage when through on goal.

They were made to pay as Koke was again the provider. His pass into the box found Depay who swivelled and powered his shot to the bottom corner.

Atletico Madrid's Memphis Depay, second right, celebrates with his teammates
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Atleti players celebrate Depay’s late leveller to take the game into extra-time

Atletico could have won it before extra-time when Griezmann’s pass set up Rodrigo Riquelme but he sent his first-time shot over the bar to leave Diego Simeone face down on the sidelines in disbelief.

Atletico made the most of the penalty shootout and the stadium erupted as their manager was brought to tears after beating his former club and ex-team mate Simone Inzaghi.

The key stats

  • Four of the last five penalty shootouts in the UEFA Champions League have involved Atlético Madrid. Indeed, the Spanish side are the first team to win three separate shootouts in the competition’s history.
  • Atlético Madrid have progressed from a UEFA Champions League knockout tie in which they lost the first leg for the first time since the 2015-16 quarter final against Barcelona.
  • Inter failed to progress from a UEFA Champions League knockout tie in which they won the first leg for just a second tie, with the previous such instance coming in the 2005-06 quarter-final against Villarreal.
  • Inter lost a UEFA Champions League game in which they went 1-0 up for the first time since November 2019 vs Borussia Dortmund, having come into this game unbeaten in 19 in the competition when scoring first (W17 D2).
  • There were just 136 seconds between Federico Dimarco’s opener for Inter (1-0) and Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser for Atlético (1-1).
  • Antoine Griezmann has scored six goals in eight UEFA Champions League appearances for Atlético this season, only netting more in 2015-16 (7 goals in 13 games). The Frenchman has scored in all four of his appearances at the Cívitas Metropolitano in the competition this term.
  • Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser for Atlético was the first goal that Inter have conceded in an away knockout game in the UEFA Champions League since André Ayew’s strike for Marseille in the last 16 back in 2011-12, having kept four successive clean sheets in such matches prior to today.
  • Atlético forward Memphis Depay has scored nine UEFA Champions League goals, with eight of those either drawing his side level (3) or putting them one goal in the lead (5). Despite coming on in the 79th minute, his six attempts on goal this evening was the most on record (since 2003-04) by an Atlético substitute in a UEFA Champions League game.
  • At 30y & 129d, Atlético Madrid named their oldest ever starting XI for a UEFA Champions League knockout stage match, with this their 41st such game in the competition.

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