Atletico Madrid hold their bottle in penalty shootout win, ending Inter’s Champions League run

Despite holding an aggregate lead of 2-0 at one point, Inter paid the price for lacking a clinical edge as Atletico Madrid roared back before eliminating the Nerazzurri from the Champions League in a dramatic penalty shootout.

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ESTADIO CIVITAS METROPOLITANO (Madrid) – Although many travelling Inter fans in Madrid might have expected suffering and drama in their Champions League last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid, the Nerazzurri’s European campaign ended with a harder-to-predict sense of bitterness. Captain Lautaro Martinez sent a wild and wayward penalty off target to end the Serie A leaders’ European run after a 2-1 loss on the night.

Diego Simeone‘s Colchoneros can be more than proud of achieving the Champions League quarter-finals after coming from 2-0 behind on aggregate, with Federico Dimarco‘s goal adding to the 1-0 result from Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the first half at the Metropolitano.

Inter, though, were a faded version of the powerhouse that has been dominating Serie A and had won all of their games played in 2024.

Inter’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente do battle in the Champions League. (@Inter)

But the celebrations after Dimarco‘s 33rd-minute strike were ended swiftly when Antoine Griezmann immediately levelled on the night and sparked some nerves in the Nerazzurri.

Despite looking more disjointed than usual, Inter even had chances to kill off the game in the second half but Marcus Thuram and Nicolo Barella failed to convert. With full-time approaching, Atleti substitute Memphis Depay had his impact felt by scoring Atletico‘s second to take the game to extra-time.

Griezmann responds to Dimarco’s opener in action-packed first half

Atleti made their intentions clear early – five players sprinting menacingly forward from kick-off showed their intent. And Samuel Lino was posing a threat on the flank.

Having already delivered one troubling ball, Lino then hit a fierce shot that forced Yan Yann Sommer‘s first save of the night.

Inter’s Federico Dimarco celebrates a Champions League goal. (@Inter)

While Inter would never have expected things to be easy at the Metropolitano, they might not have thought Atleti would so easily and often dispossess them in their own half.

Marcus Thuram had his chances as well, but it just wasn’t the Frenchman’s night in Madrid, while Denzel Dumfries too found himself thwarted by Jan Oblak.

After a brief drop in intensity from Atletico, Inter found themselves in front and in the driving seat. Barella forced his way into the box and squared for Dimarco who, having shuffled his feet, finished with apparent reluctance on his right foot to double the Italians’ aggregate advantage.

But that on-the-night lead was briefly banished when Antoine Griezmann pounced on a loose ball that Benjamin Pavard had failed to deal with at the other end.

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann against Inter. (@Atleti)

Depay strikes late to punish wasteful Inter

Inter looked anything but reassured at the back, with Dimarco following in Pavard‘s footsteps to cause problems for the visitors. Marcos Llorente pounced this time, teeing up Griezmann but the Frenchman’s effort was tame and Sommer kept it out.

With Atletico turning the screw and Inter struggling, it was little surprise that Matteo Darmian and Francesco Acerbi were the first men Inzaghi decided to bring on in an attempt to see things out.

But Inter couldn’t make their chances count. On a swift counterattack, Lautaro Martinez slipped Thuram through but he blazed over the crossbar when met with an imposing Oblak at the edge of the area. Moments later, Barella was denied by the goalkeeper.

Thuram and Inter were given a lesson in what it means to be clinical from Atletico substitute Memphis Depay. As the Dutchman caused panic in the visitors’ box, he hit a fierce effort that bounced off the inside of the post and away. Shortly after, he was slightly more accurate after beating Stefan de Vrij to finish past Sommer.

It could have been killed off before extra-time though, but Rodrigo Riquelme somehow missed a huge chance that saw Diego Simeone drop to the ground in disbelief on the sidelines.

Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo De Paul in Champions League action against Inter. (@Atleti)

Inter continue to be wasteful in the shootout and pay the price

With the 30 minutes of extra-time coming and going without Inter ever looking as though they would manage to find a winner, the game went all the way to penalties.

With the Nerazzurri going first, the slight advantage was with them but the deafening whistles around the Metropolitano surely cancelled any such statistical edge out.

Despite Hakan Calhanoglu excellently tucking away the first of the shootout, Memphis dispatched an even more impressive kick to level things up.

Alexis Sanchez‘s tame effort was stopped by Oblak, though Sommer spared the Chilean’s blushes by denying Saul Niguez right away.

But Davy Klaassen and Lautaro Martinez missed their subsequent kicks, with the World Cup-winner sending his attempt high and wide of goal to end Inter‘s Champions League journey at the first knockout round.

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