Atletico beats Inter on penalties to reach Champions League quarters

Atletico Madrid players celebrate winning the Champions League, round of 16, second leg soccer match against Inter Milan at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Atletico Madrid won 3-2 in a penalty shootout. (AP/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID — Jan Oblak made two saves and Lautaro Martínez sent his shot over the crossbar as Atletico Madrid defeated Inter Milan 3-2 on penalties after scoring a late winner in regulation to return to the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Oblak saved the penalties by Alexis Sánchez and Davy Klaassen before Martínez missed the final kick for last year’s runner-up in the European competition.

“In the end it’s a bit about luck in the shootout,” Oblak said. “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 quarterfinals.”

Depay, Rodrigo Riquelme and Ángel Correa converted their penalties for Atletico, with Saúl Ñíguez having his shot saved by Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Hakan Calhanoglu and Francesco Acerbi scored for the visitors in the shootout.

Atletico reversed the 1-0 first-leg loss after Memphis Depay scored an 87th-minute goal that gave Diego Simeone’s team a 2-1 win in regulation.

Atletico didn’t make it past the group stage last season and was eliminated by Manchester City in the last eight in 2021-22.

Inter, which lost last year’s final to Man City, had arrived at the Metropolitano Stadium enjoying a 13-game winning streak. It hadn’t lost in 15 consecutive games in all competitions and had won all of its matches in 2024.

Inter opened the scoring in regulation with Federico Dimarco in the 33rd, but Atletico equalized two minutes later with Antoine Griezmann in his return from injury.

In the other Champions League match Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund defeated PSV Eindhoven 2-0 at home to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

The eight teams in the draw for the quarterfinals are Atletico, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal and Barcelona.

It was an open match at the Metropolitano Stadium, with Atletico pressing forward from the start and Inter threatening on counterattacks.

The hosts dominated the final part of the match and created several chances until Depay broke through with the late winner with a low shot from inside the area after a nice set up by midfielder Koke Resurrección.

Inter had increased its first-leg lead with Dimarco scoring with a low shot from the middle of the area after a pass by Nicolo Barella following a breakaway in the 33rd.

But it didn’t take long for Atletico to answer, equalizing a couple of minutes later with Griezmann scoring after picking up a loose ball inside the area.

Griezmann was making his return to action after spraining his ankle in the first leg in Italy three weeks ago. The France forward has been key for Atletico this season but hadn’t scored in eight consecutive matches in all competitions.

Barella had a chance to add Inter’s second goal in a breakaway in the 82nd but he got off a weak shot in a one-on-one situation with Oblak. Depay had hit the post in the 85th, a few minutes after coming off the bench to replace Álvaro Morata.

Riquelme came close to sealing Atletico’s triumph in the third minute of stoppage time in regulation, but his shot from near the penalty spot missed over the crossbar. Simeone dropped to the ground after the ball sailed over the net.

Atletico arrived with a great home record but had won only two of its last nine matches in all competitions.

The Champions League represents Atletico’s last realistic chance for a title this season. It was eliminated in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey and sits in fourth place in the Spanish league, 14 points behind leader Real Madrid.

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