Real Madrid blows past Atalanta, Reaches Champions League quarter-finals
Goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio saw Real Madrid beat Atalanta 3-1 at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium to secure its place in the Champions League quarter-finals, winning the tie 4-1 on aggregate.
The Italian side pressed Madrid early on, with the intensity of Atalanta’s press giving their opponents no time to settle and Robin Gosens could have scored, only to fail to connect with Muriel’s cross. However, Madrid found its feet as Kroos began to dictate from deep and the tireless Modric popped passes around Atalanta’s midfield.
After a failed attack by Madrid, the ball fell to Atalanta goalkeeper Sportiello, whose clearance was blocked by Luka Madrid. The Croatian pushed the ball into the box before cutting the ball back to Benzema, who had an open net to give the hosts the lead.
The goal killed Atalanta’s belief and Vinicius almost added a second after half-time, only to fire wide after a surging run to the edge of Atalanta’s six-yard box. The score remained 1-0 by halftime.
As the hour mark approached, Real Madrid were awarded a penalty. Again, Vinicius was the instigator after he took possession from Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi and charged forward, before being tripped by Atalanta’s Rafael Toloi.
Although contact looked to have been just outside the area, Dutch referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot for a penalty. Madrid captain Sergio Ramos stepped up and fired the ball past the diving Sportiello to extend Madrid’s lead.
Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata finally called Courtois into action in the 67th minute but the goalkeeper made a fine save. At the other end, Benzema’s header was saved and then the Frenchman nodded the rebound against the post.
With seven minutes left, Atalanta striker Muriel clipped a well-worked 25-yard free-kick up over the wall into the top corner for a consolation.
However, Real Madrid restored its two-goal cushion when substitute Marco Asensio drilled the ball into the bottom corner after being picked out by Lucas Vazquez.
The game finished 3-1 to Madrid, progressing 4-1 on aggregate after the two-leg tie.
Zinedine Zidane’s side will be in Friday’s draw for the last eight and with their old guard fit and firing again, they will be hopeful of exceeding what are now dampened expectations of La Liga’s reigning champions.
“We showed tonight how much hunger there still is in this team,” said Luka Modric. “We can go far. How far let’s see but today was an important step.”
“I feel 27! The years on your passport don’t matter, it’s about what you do on the pitch.”