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Memphis and Oblak the heroes as Atletico book Champions League quarterfinal spot

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Memphis and Oblak the heroes as Atletico book Champions League quarterfinal spot

Madrid, March 14 (IANS) Striker Memphis Depay and goalkeeper Jan Oblak were the heroes as Atletico Madrid qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League after beating Inter Milan in a penalty shootout.

Memphis scored the 87th minute goal to give Atletico a 2-1 win on the night and take the tie to extra time and penalties after Inter’s 1-0 first leg win, while Oblak made two saves in the shoot-out to see his team through.

Atletico welcomed Antoine Griezmann back into their side after three weeks out with an ankle injury for a game that kicked off in front of a packed Metropolitano Stadium.

Cheered on by a fervent home crowd, Atletico started aggressively, looking to take the game to and Inter Milan side that had won their last 13 matches.

Inter looked composed at the back despite the pressure and almost took the lead after 15 minutes when Denzel Dumfries surged forward on a break, forcing Oblak to save twice from a tight angle.

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Alvaro Morata had Atletico’s first chance with a downward header from Mario Hermoso’s cross that Yann Sommer got down well to save, reported Xinhua.

Inter opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after a swift break that ended with Nicolo Barella latching onto Alessandro Bastoni’s ball down the left and pulling it back for Federico Dimarco to side-foot past Oblak.

Inter’s lead lasted just two minutes when Griezmann took advantage of some uncharacteristically chaotic defending to turn and score from Koke’s lob into the box after Inter failed to clear a ball from the right.

The goal gave Atletico a huge boost and only a brave block by Sommer denied Griezmann his second of the night.

Atletico started seeing the second half with Griezmann again frustrated by Sommer, who got down to his left to block the striker’s first time shot after good work by Marcos Llorente.

Once again Inter started to look comfortable and with 20 minutes left, Simeone looked to live things up by replacing Samuel Lino and Rodrigo de Paul with Angel Correa and Rodrigo Riquelme.

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Marcus Thuram wasted a great chance to seal it for Inter in the 75th minute when Lautaro Martinez slipped him through with a perfect pass, but with just Oblak to beat Thuram blazed well over the bar.

Memphis came on for Atletico and twice went close before stealing a yard on his marker in the 87th minute and drilling a low shot in at the post to force extra time, although Riquelme could have sealed it in the 93rd minute, only to shoot over with the goal at his mercy.

Thuram wasted another chance, heading over in extra time, before Sommer saved well from the impressive Memhis, but the tie was destined to be decided by penalties.

–IANS

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