Atletico shutout Leverkusen to progress – Champions League
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen (Agg. 4-2)
Atletico Madrid sealed their place in the last eight of the Champions League courtesy of a professional second-leg display against Bayer Leverkusen.
Leading 4-2 from the first leg, the Spanish side were largely unflustered as they held the German side at bay.
However, home keeper Jan Oblak did make two superb saves in quick succession to deny Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland.
Bayer keeper Bernd Leno produced two excellent stops of his own to tip away Angel Correa and Koke shots.
Last season’s runners-up Atletico are the third Spanish side through to the quarter-finals, along with Barcelona and holders Real Madrid.
They are joined by Monaco, who beat Manchester City, with German duo Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and English champions Leicester completing the draw, which takes place on Friday.
The result maintains Atletico’s flawless record of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals under manager Diego Simeone, making it four in a row since 2013-14.
They have played much better during the Argentine’s tenure, but this was an evening that demanded efficiency over entertainment and in that respect they fully delivered.
The returning Diego Godin marshalled a resolute back-line superbly, giving Bayer only the rarest sniff of one of the three goals they required to overturn the tie.
They could, and probably should have added to their advantage, but Leno was in fine form, diving to his left to tip away Correa’s shot from inside the box and to his right to deny Koke from a similar range.
In the second half, Antoine Griezmann beat the offside trap and also Leno with a chipped effort that floated a yard past the post.
Another positive for the home side was the presence on the bench of Fernando Torres, who lost consciousness after a heavy challenge in a game with Deportivo La Coruna on 2 March and subsequently spent 24 hours in hospital.
Bayer had a new man in the dugout in Tayfun Korkut, who succeeded Roger Schmidt last week following the first-leg defeat and a 6-2 league loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Ex-Hannover and Kaiserslautern boss Korkut drew his first game 1-1 with Werder Bremen last Friday, but faced a near impossible task at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Only twice in Champions League history has a side overturned a home first-leg defeat to win the tie.
In addition, it is 31 Champions League games – in a run stretching back to 2002 – since Bayer have scored three goals away from home over 90 minutes.
And without six first-team regulars, including 17-year-old midfielder Kai Havertz, missing because he “has important exams at school”, they gave it a go but never looked likely of bucking either of these trends.
Much of the credit for that goes to Oblak, who produced a number of superb saves to deny Bayer even a consolation goal to take back to Germany.