Penalty Drama in Madrid Pushes Atletico to UCL Quarterfinals

Griezmann in UCL for Atletico

Going into Tuesday’s Champions League fixtures, only one of the matches really had anything left to fight for. Manchester City took a 3-1 lead over Dynamo Kiev back to the Etihad, but Atlético Madrid and PSV went into their second leg still deadlocked at 0-0. With the match being played at the Vincente Calderon in the Spanish capital, Atlético had to be considered the favorites to advance at the start of the match, but their Dutch visitors gave them quite a run for their money.

PSV’s keeper Jeroen Zoet made a massive save to keep his side level just 15 minutes into the all-or-nothing fixture. After Koke found Antoine Griezmann on the penalty spot, it looked as if the Frenchman had to score, but Zoet made himself big and kept the tie deadlocked. Good play from the goalkeepers would come to define the day as both Zoet and Jan Oblak both made smart blocks on crosses in the opening 30 minutes to stop an attack from the opposition.

Zoet again denied Griezmann in the 37th minute, stopping the striker’s close-range header with a solid reaction save. The Dutch keeper’s key saves through the opening 45 minutes kept PSV in with a shout, but Atlético’s attack looked deadly when given the chance. Could PSV’s attacking line give their keeper some much-needed support in the second half?

Within the first five minutes of the second half, the hosts came within inches of opening the scoring only for José Giménez’s header to fly just wide of the near post. Atlético continued to push for a vital goal, and PSV looked content to sit and absorb the pressure. Despite this defensive strategy, the Dutch club actually had the best chance of the match in the 58th minute. A finessed shot from Jürgen Locadia looked destined for the side netting but a slight deflection from Oblak tipped it onto the inside of the post. Luuk de Jong had a chance to head in the rebound but Filipe Luis made an excellent block to save his side.

Atlético regained control of the match after this close call, but no matter what they did it just didn’t look like Zoet was going to be beaten. The remainder of regulation saw Atlético pepper PSV’s penalty area with crosses and shots with Fernando Torres’ close-range drive in the 86th minute coming the closest to finding the back of the net. Sadly, for the home supporters, their side couldn’t find their goal and the match went into extra time.

Just like in the first 90 minutes, Atlético were the better time in extra time. Lucas Hernández and Griezmann both came close to scoring a winner in the first 15-minute period, but neither hit pay dirt. The final period of play lacked any real chances, and the match would need penalties to decide a winner.

The penalty shootout did not disappoint as both sides were nearly perfect from the spot. Even after some very close saves from Oblak and Zoet, none of either team’s first five shooters missed their spot kicks. It wasn’t until Luciano Narsingh’s howler off the crossbar in the eighth round that Atlético had a chance to win the match. Juanfran stepped up and just barely hammered his low drive past Zoet to send the Spaniards into the last eight of the tournament. Can they carry the emotion and momentum from this dramatic win to carry on to their second Champions League final in three years?

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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