Atlético have reached the semi finals of the Europa League after beating Hannover 96 a second time.
In an unexciting game the Colchoneros again bested the Germans by two goals to one.
In the next round we’ll take on domestic rivals Valencia, who came back from behind to beat AZ 5-1 on aggregate.
With Juanfran, Gabi and Arda all missing due to suspension Simeone introduced Tiago to the starting line-up, the Portuguese midfielder’s first start since our away game at Sevilla in the first week of March.
The only surprise in Atlético’s XI was the exclusion of Toto Salvio, who had scored a number of goals lately but, like last week’s match, again started on the bench. In that previous game against Hannover the Argentine came off the bench for the winning goal just one minute before the end.
Salvio was now left out as Simeone preferred Koke for a more defensive approach in midfield, while Adrián got the nod up front. It was that same Adrián who headed wide Atleti’s first chance of the match, when the match was already half an hour underway.
In the first half both teams seemed to be in two minds, as they were cautious not to concede an early goal. The teams cancelled each other out until half time without either side taking any risks.
After the break Simeone instructed his men to play further forward and in the 63rd minute Atlético were rewarded. Adrián forced Pogatetz to a mistake and won possession, before taking the ball on an incredible solo run. He beat the defender, went round goalkeeper Zieler and still had the control and vision to cut past a final man on the line, before slotting the ball into the back of the empty net.
Even Juanfran, who was watching the game at home, couldn’t hide his excitement for the wonder goal and posted on Twitter: “Well done, bro. You son of a gun! You’re a crack, the perfect #7″, as he referred to the Asturian’s shirt number.
Hannover seemed shocked after the goal and realized they now had to take all risks to have any chance of proceeding to the semi final. But the home side struggled to create any opportunities or get the ball into the area. That was until a single lapse of concentration in the Atleti defence. The ball fell to Mame Biran Diouf, who also scored in the first leg, and the striker beat Perea and Courtois with a accurate strike.
Being just one goal away from extra time, the match seemed to head to a thrilling end.
But who other than Radamel Falcao made an end to the aspirations of yet another Europa League victim. Adrián and especially Diego did brilliant to set the Colombian up, and Falcao finished with a ferocious half-volley from outside the area to give the Rojiblancos another 2-1 win.
Two other la Liga teams also advanced to the next round of La Liga and it’s Valencia who we will be meeting next. The first leg against Los Che will be played at the Vicente Calderón on the 19th of April.
Line-up: Courtois; Perea, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Diego (“88 Domínguez), Tiago, Mario, Koke (“65 Salvio); Adrián and Falcao.
Goals: 0-1 Adrián (“63); 1-1 Diouf (“81) 1-2 Falcao (“87)