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Atletico beat Inter on penalties to reach Champions League quarter-finals. Oblak makes two saves

MADRID (AP) — With tears in his eyes, Diego Simeone watched Atletico Madrid fans celebrate in the stands of the Metropolitano stadium.

Minutes earlier, the coach was pacing the sidelines, unable to watch the tense penalty shootout that ended with Atletico beating Inter Milan and qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Jan Oblak made two saves and Lautaro Martínez sent his shot over the crossbar as Atletico beat Inter 3-2 on penalties after scoring a late winner in regulation on Wednesday.

“It was emotional,” Simeone said. “I am happy for the players and for the fans. We are once again one of the eight best teams in Europe. That says a lot about this club.

Oblak saved penalties from Alexis Sánchez and Davy Klaassen before Martínez missed last year's European runner-up's final shot.

“At the end of the day, it's a bit about luck in the shootout,” Oblak said. “Because you have to choose the right side and you have to stop. If the player takes the kick perfectly, it is impossible to stop it. Fortunately, I was able to make the saves. What matters is the victory and that we reached the quarter-finals.

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

Atletico overturned a 1-0 first-leg defeat after Depay scored an 87th-minute goal that gave Simeone's side a 2-1 win in regulation time.

Atletico did not advance past the group stage last season and were eliminated by Manchester City in the round of 16 in 2021-22.

Inter, who lost last year's final to Man City, had arrived at the Metropolitano stadium with a 13-game winning streak. He had not lost 15 consecutive matches in all competitions and had won all his matches in 2024.

“We have to be proud of what we have done in this Champions League,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi. “In the second half we should have done better. In the extra time, we had more energy but unfortunately we made too many mistakes.

Inter opened the scoring in normal time with Federico Dimarco in the 33rd, but Atletico equalized two minutes later with Antoine Griezmann returning from injury.

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

The eight teams selected for the quarter-finals 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 from the start and Inter threatening on the counter-attacks.

The hosts dominated the latter 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 fine set-up from midfielder Koke Resurrección.

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

But Atletico was quick to respond, equalizing a few minutes later thanks to a goal from Griezmann after recovering a loose ball in the area.

Griezmann was making his return to action after spraining his ankle in the first leg in Italy three weeks ago. The French striker has been key for Atletico this season but has failed to score in eight consecutive matches in all competitions.

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

Riquelme almost sealed Atletico's triumph in the third minute of stoppage time in normal time, but his shot from near the penalty spot missed the crossbar. Simeone fell to the ground after the ball crossed the net.

Atletico arrived with an excellent home record but have won just two of their last nine matches in all competitions.

The Champions League represents Atletico's last realistic chance to win a title this season. They were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and are in fourth place in the Spanish championship, 14 points behind leaders Real Madrid.


AP Football:

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