Champions League: Atlético 0 – 0 PSV (8 – 7 penalties)
Rojiblancos squeeze through on penalties against brave PSV
Atlético Madrid’s long-suffering, loyal supporters were put through another evening of torture by their beloved team on Tuesday night, but came through in the most nerve-wracking of circumstances against PSV Eindhoven.
The rojiblancos beat the Dutch side in sudden death of a penalty shoot-out, with Juanfran emerging as the hero with the winning kick in a pulsating 8-7 win.
Nothing could separate the two teams after 210 intense minutes over two legs, but despite putting up a brave fight and defending valiantly, Phillip Cocu’s side go home empty-handed as substitute Luciano Narsingh missed the only penalty of the night.
After a 0-0 stalemate in Eindhoven three weeks ago, Atleti weren’t expected to have too much trouble on the return at the Calderón and line-up with an attacking formation.
Simeone made one change from the team that beat Deportivo on Saturday, replacing Luciano Vietto with Augusto Fernández in midfield as Yannick Carrasco partnered Antoine Griezmann in attack.
PSV dropped deep as many had anticipated, but it seemed for a while that it was only a matter of time until the hosts made the breakthrough, especially with a raucous Vicente Calderón in their corner.
Griezmann it was who had the game’s first opportunity, but after great work from Juanfran and Koke, he shot at the body of goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet when he really should have scored.
However, Zoet was a man on a mission, and kept Atleti out at all costs on the night with a string of fine saves. Later in the half, he saved another header from Griezmann at point blanc range, although the offside flag would’ve denied him anyway.
Carrasco also sent a long range pile-driver just inches over his crossbar, as the visitors beginning to grow in confidence the longer the game stayed goalless.
On the break they looked dangerous and in defence they were spectacular, Jeffrey Bruma in particular shining as the leader of the young back five.
Cholo changed things up after the break and sent on a striker in Fernando Torres, but it was PSV who came closest to finding the opener, and what would’ve been a crucial away goal.
As the colchoneros sent more and more men forward, gaps were appearing in defence and Jürgen Locadia almost exploited that, only to find that Atleti also had an inspired goalkeeper in Jan Oblak.
Locadia’s shot was superbly palmed onto the post by the Slovenian, but somehow from the rebound, free-scoring Luuk de Jong was unable to convert into an empty net and Filipe managed to clear.
Up at the other end, the Dutch side dealt with just about everything that was being thrown at them, with Zoet saving from Torres at his near post and Griezmann towards the end yet again.
Surprisingly, Simeone brought off perhaps his brightest attacking player in Carrasco as time ran out, and also had to withdraw Diego Godín in the dying moments as injury got the better of him.
20 year-old Lucas Hernández took his place, and as extra time arrived it was the young Frenchman who had the clearest opening, heading over the crossbar from a corner when it looked easier to score.
In the additional thirty minutes, tiredness began to play a part and the fear factor took over, with neither side wanting to lose it or commit too many men forward and risk being exposed at the back.
Given that Atleti hadn’t conceded in over 6 hours at home and PSV likewise on their travels, penalties looked the most likely option and just like at this stage last year, that was how the tie was to be decided.
Bayer Leverkusen lost 3-2 on spot-kicks on that occasion, but this was to turn into something even more gut-wrenching for fans of both teams.
Despite looking so secure in normal time, the goalkeepers were having no luck in the shootout as both teams took with confidence, despite a few only just creeping in.
The visitors took first, meaning Atleti were left to play catch-up, but each time we were able to hold our nerve and eventually take advantage of their one miss.
After five successful takes from either side, it went to sudden death. The noise in the Calderón continued, and rose to perhaps it’s highest point all evening as the unfortunate Luciano Narshingh hit the crossbar with the 15th penalty of the night.
Narsingh had only come on three minutes from the end to take a penalty, but hit the crossbar, leaving Juanfran with an opportunity to become a hero and send the red and whites into the quarter-finals.
Just like Griezmann, Gabi, Koke, Saúl, Torres, Giménez and Filipe before him, he scored and lifted the roof off of the stadium, with a wave of pure delight and delirium taking over as the victory was confirmed.
It had been a gruelling, exhausting night for both teams, who fought tooth and nail to the end, and in that moment you could see just what it meant to everyone involved at Atleti to get that crucial win.
Having worked so hard, we finally got the break we needed and perhaps that mental spur now to push on and really make a mark in the competition.
It may have been heartbreak for the travelling PSV fans, but they gave Cholo’s men two of the toughest games they have had all season and can go home with their heads held high.
Now, Atleti will await Friday’s quarter-final draw with enthusiasm, as we prepare to do it all over again against another of Europe’s elite next month.
Simeone will insist that nothing is more important than the next game though, which is away at Sporting Gijón on Saturday. Partido a partido, that’s the path to success. Forza Atleti.
|Atlético Madrid||0 0||PSV Eindhoven|
|UEFA Champions League|
|15 March 2016|
|De Jong (118')|