Atletico Madrid knocks off Bayer Leverkusen, reaches UCL quarters
MADRID (AP) — Fernando Torres scored the decisive spot-kick as Atletico Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 in a penalty shootout on Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
The match finished 1-1 on aggregate after extra time, with the home side avenging its 1-0 defeat in Germany in the first leg of the last 16 contest with a 1-0 victory on the night.
Mario Suarez scored for last season's losing finalists in the 27th minute with a shot that was deflected by Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak.
Level at 2-2 before the final two penalties of the shootout, substitute Torres made no mistake from the spot but Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling sent the final kick over the bar.
"I'm happy, delighted to see the stadium enjoying a match like this," Torres said. "I've often yearned to live nights like this in the Calderon, so it's a day to savor."
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was thrilled with his side's achievement.
"I loved it," Simeone said. "As I watched the match ending I could see we were back again among the best eight teams in Europe with Atletico Madrid in a stadium that was erupting. It left me with goose-pimples."
With Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola watching in the stands, the game began with both sides evenly matched.
Leverkusen's right-winger Karim Bellarabi missed the first shot on goal in the 10th minute and 12 minutes later Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Moya picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Slovenian international Jan Oblak in the 22nd.
Oblak confidently pounced on a dangerous loose ball in the penalty area in the 45th.
The second half began with Atletico pressing forward after Raul Garcia had come on for Ruben "Cani" Garcia.
Bellarabi tried a long shot on goal in the 58th, but Oblak easily stopped it, while Atletico missed a chance in the 70th when Garcia got a touch on Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion's free kick but the ball shaved the outside of the post.
Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno made a good stop in the 80th but the ball bounced for defender Emir Spahic to clear.
Atletico forward Mario Mandzukic, who had been limping for much of the second half, was replaced in the 83rd by Torres, who is back at his boyhood club on loan from AC Milan.
The tension grew in the Vicente Calderon stadium as the match entered extra time.
Oblak snuffed out Kiessling's shot in the 95th and Atletico fans cheered as Leno was forced to save Arda Turan's shot in the 107th.
Leverkusen left-winger Stefan Rolfes tried to surprise Oblak with a shot from 30 yards out but it went wide.
With both teams tiring visibly, Torres tried a diving header in the 116th but Leno was able to block — as the match drifted toward the shootout.