Atlético de Madrid defeats Inter Milan on penalties and completes the Spanish shortlist in the Champions League quarterfinals – La Opinion

Atlético de Madrid defeats Inter Milan on penalties and completes the Spanish shortlist in the Champions League quarterfinals – La Opinion

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Atlético de Madrid suffered, but beat Inter Milan on penalties and joined Real Madrid and Barcelona as the third Spanish team to advance to the quarterfinal round of the Champions League.

The Colchoneros got their ticket in an agonizing series of penalties, after a huge and moving effort, after tying the tie in the 87th minute with a goal from Memphis Depay, enduring extra time and winning on penalties to complete the comeback from 0-0. 1 against the first leg, with a splendid Oblak in the eleven meters and a final failure by the world champion Lautaro Martínez.

In the ninth shot from the spot, the Argentine attacker, Inter’s scorer, sent his right hand through the clouds to put an end to an exciting series, in which the red and white team perhaps deserved more during regulation time.

His reward reached the limit: Calhanoglu scored the first maximum penalty, Memphis responded, Oblak grew bigger to repel the shots of Alexis Sánchez and Klaassen, but in the meantime Sommer had repelled Saúl’s shot. Acerbi got it right, so did Correa and, finally, Lautaro Martínez missed his shot.

Atlético looked Inter in the face. He yelled at her that there was a tie. That the Metropolitano also plays. Because there is another team, nothing to do with the Cádiz fiasco. Or from Almería. Or from Bilbao. Or the San Siro itself. He is very different at home, light years away, from the one who appears as a visitor. His strength is undeniable, capable of anything, prepared for any challenge. Its intensity is unleashed. His options, too. His conviction is expressive.

“I trust my players and my team, we are going to do well.” Simeone was clear about it. The Metropolitano was thunderous, Atlético was energetic, and they lived up to the match. He faced it without fear. Without complex. He never gave up. Not even when Inter hit them suddenly, because the Italian team was fast-paced, precise, conclusive when they went on the counterattack.

Wasting their first moment of the match, when Atlético successfully pressed, overwhelmed their opponent and created a few chances, especially an initial one by Lino that Sommer solved crucially with his left hand (later, the visitor’s reply was repelled by magnificent Oblak against Dumfries), received the 0-1. Suddenly. Not unexpected. Inter flies.

In the 33rd minute, the precise demonstration – of passes and movements, without the ball and with it – of the ‘neroazzurro’ team overwhelmed Atlético’s structure (built in a 5-4-1, with Griezmann on the left when defending). To Nahuel Molina. To Marcos Llorente. To Savic. To the entire right sector, with the break of Barella, who handed the goal back to Dimarco.

So easy in appearance, so difficult in reality, Inter is a fine-tuned machine, prepared to take advantage of any concession from its rival, but also to create the cracks through which to break the match. The 0-1 would have been a blow for anyone. A blow of complex resuscitation. Not for Atlético, who immediately resurfaced at 1-1.

Back four games later, Griezmann awakened faith. He had not participated as much as he usually does nor as much as he should until then, more present in defensive than offensive tasks. But having it on the ground is an inexhaustible source in any scenario. Because his quality and his goals speak for themselves. Also because his vision is formidable. And because he is smart, timely to catch Pavard’s fatal clearance. At the half turn, it was 1-1.

Two minutes later, just 0-1, with all that that entails in a match so measured, so detailed, that moves on such a narrow edge. What would have happened if the equalizer had not been scored so soon? Probably nothing good for Atlético, whose reaction was another declaration of intent. A concise, direct message to Inter, of which there was not a single news from Lautaro Martínez, extinguished by Witsel (imperial again), Savic (outstanding) and company, until the balance of the tie and beyond.

Griezmann wanted more before the break. His attack ended in the clearance of the opposing defense. Simeone, on the sideline, waved his arms toward the stands. He also wanted more from the fans. The strength of him. He found her from the first moment. Nobody remembered about Cádiz. Not a look back. The public surrendered hours before. Until the end. He roared as always in big duels, even louder. The Champions League awakens everyone’s desire.

And more of a comeback. She never gave up. He went further in the second half. Griezmann made it 2-1. His shot in the area, on Llorente’s back pass, did not go as it should. The visiting goalkeeper caught it with much less difficulty than expected before the shot. It is an opportunity that should be more.

Inter already supported Atlético’s offensive. Higher and higher, with more and more risks, he had no choice, the red and white team was emptied of its insistence. Physically and mentally. An action by Riquelme, on the field for Lino for the final 20 minutes, shook up the game again, as did the umpteenth error by Molina for the counter that Thuram wasted.

A half turn from Memphis made the Metropolitano even more boiling, fearful when Barella stood alone against Oblak. The goalkeeper caught it. It was a roller coaster. Memphis crashed a right hand into the post. The third time, already in the 87th minute, was the charm. The Dutchman received it inside the area and crossed his shot. A goal for extra time. It was no more, because Riquelme missed the last one, over the crossbar, on the verge of the 93rd minute.

He didn’t avoid overtime. Equal eliminatory. Half an hour more. Everything is more measured. In the first half, two Inter headers, both wide. By Thuram and Lautaro. A chance for Atlético, with a shot from Memphis, again, which Sommer solved with difficulty. Griezmann couldn’t take it anymore, substituted at the break of extra time. Simeone’s group noticed the effort, which then withstood Inter’s dominance to reach penalties and the apotheosis.

Keep reading:
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