Atletico Madrid thrash AC Milan to book their place in the Quarter Final of Champions League for the first time in 17 years.
The last time Atletico Madrid progress this far in the competition was back in 1997, when they were knocked out by Ajax in the Quarter Final stages. Jesus Gill was the president back then and Radomir Antic was in charge of the team, with which he won the double the previous year. Diego Simeone and his men are looking strong enough to reach further than that side was able back then and very few teams want to be drawn against them in the next round.
The away goal in the first leg at San Siro already provide Atletico Madrid with big advantage going into this second leg and they capitalized on it as they scored four past AC Milan and won 5-1 on aggregate.
Diego Costa opened the scoring for the home side, who are yet to be beaten at Vicente Calderon this season, and set the tone for the rest of the match. To be fair to AC Milan, they did show some resilience and fighting qualities after conceding that goal and former Real Madrid player Kaka scored the equalizer with a header at the back post. But parity didn’t last long and Arda Turan’s deflected effort found the back of the net in the 40th minute of the match and restored Atletico’s lead going into half time.
Clarence Seedorf brought on Robinho and then Giampaolo Pazzini in the second half and the game got a bit stretched with Milan throwing bodies forward in attack. This of course allowed Atletico to counter-attack and Raul Garcia scored their third goal of the game to put the tie beyond doubts. Diego Costa completed his brace right at the end as Atletico completed the rout and booked their place into the next round.
Deigo Simeone was delighted with the result and praised his side’s second half performance in the game. He also insisted that it is important that Atletico don’t think too much ahead of themselves and take every match as they come.
“The atmosphere was brilliant, a night to remember. We started the first half better than them, and it seemed the game was under control after our first goal, but they got into it. I knew Milan could make life difficult; they have Ignazio Abate, Kaká, Mario Balotelli … but my players were at their best in the second half.
“Only with the third goal did I relax a little. Now we have to wait and see who we get in the next round. Today was very important for the team. I am very happy with the result, it is historic. I have warriors on the pitch.
“It’s a good moment for us, but right now I’m trying not to think too much about things or to get as excited as maybe we could get after waiting so long for this. We have a difficult quarter-final ahead. We have to rest and continue working. This is a duty for everyone, from those in charge all the way down the club – every employee. We must continue on the same path.” – The Atletico Madrid manager said.
Clarence Seedorf on the other hand was disappointed with his player’s lack of fighting spirit in the second half and the fact that they conceded so early in the game. He insisted that they will now have reset their goals and targets for the season as they look to move up the league.
“Mentally we always struggle when we go behind and tonight it happened again. In the first half we conceded a goal almost immediately. We managed to react after a few minutes until we equalised. After our goal we were in control of the game but Atlético scored again and that was a huge blow for my players, who didn’t manage to react a second time.
“In the second half we lacked the fighting spirit needed in this kind of game. We played mostly in our half without creating enough in attack. I’m disappointed with our display.
“We have analysed the situation together in the dressing room. The UEFA Champions League was an important objective for us; now we have to give ourselves other targets until the end of the season in Serie A. There are 11 games left and we need precise aims because we cannot throw away the good things we have done.
“We played well in the first leg and tonight we proved in the first half that qualification was still possible. Players are always very down when they lose, especially in the Champions League. My job is to keep them up so that they can give everything they have until the end of the season.” – The AC Milan manager said after the game.