Tuesday March 11 2014
Milan capitulate in Madrid

Milan’s Champions League campaign is over after a 4-1 defeat away to Atletico Madrid, 5-1 on aggregate.

The Rossoneri had to overturn a 1-0 home defeat to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. Mario Balotelli had his first start since suffering a shoulder injury in the first leg, Sulley Muntari returned from suspension on the bench, but Riccardo Montolivo was still suspended and Keisuke Honda cup-tied. Atleti had Filipe Luis back from injury, though Javi Manquillo and Tiago were long-term absentees.

Diego Simeone’s men had won 15 of their last 16 European home games, a run blemished only by a 2-0 to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League in February 2013.

It took just two minutes and 34 seconds for Atleti to double their lead on aggregate, as a Koke cross was whipped in from the right for Diego Costa to volley in at full stretch at the back post, having peeled away from a distracted Adil Rami. Michael Essien had given possession away in midfield.

It was almost 2-0 on nine minutes, but Diego Godin volleyed inches wide on the end of a free kick. Balotelli chested down the ball and turned between two defenders only for the scuffed shot to finish calmly into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.

Milan did equalise before the half-hour, as Poli floated a cross in from the right and found Kaka’s cushioned header at the back post. It was a precious away goal, the Brazilian’s 30th in the Champions League, and also a morale-booster after going behind so early.

The Rossoneri started getting more possession and gaining momentum, as Atleti seemed slightly shell-shocked by that goal. Kaka nearly got a second with his header just over from six yards on an Adel Taarabt corner.

However, against the run of play Atletico Madrid restored their lead. Arda Turan’s half-volley from the edge of the D took a huge deflection off Rami to loop over a helpless Christian Abbiati.

Raul Garcia almost scored the goal of the season moments later, his spectacular overhead kick skimming the far post by a matter of inches.

Balotelli was irritable and ineffective, then booked before the break for dissent, meaning he’ll be suspended for the next European game.

Within seconds of the restart Diego Costa had flashed a shot across the face of goal, then Atleti went on the counter from a Milan corner and Gabi’s finish clipped the crossbar.

Rami was accidentally kicked in the back of the head by Diego Costa during an attempted volley, then Courtois smothered at substitute Robinho’s feet on an Essien knock-down.

Balotelli saw his free kick deflected over the bar and Miranda’s header was into Abbiati’s arms. Robinho shot from a very tight angle to force a one-handed Courtois save in a dangerous scoring opportunity.

Clarence Seedorf threw on Giampaolo Pazzini too, but Atletico Madrid extended their advantage with a goal that highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each team. A Gabi free kick was floated in for the towering header of Raul Garcia.

Robinho had the chance to open the tie up again moments later when he ran on to a Kaka through ball, but smacked his strike on to the crossbar as Courtois came tearing out.

Milan visibly lost confidence and Diego Costa added a fourth with his angled drive from a tight angle in off the inside of the far post.

In the other Round of 16 tie this evening, Bayern Munich eliminated Arsenal 3-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Germany. Lukas Podolski scored against his old club, but a Bastian Schweinsteiger strike ensured qualification was never really in doubt. In the final minutes Lukasz Fabianski saved a Thomas Muller penalty.

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Milan (5-1 agg)

Scorers: Diego Costa 3, 85 (A), Kaka 27 (M), Arda Turan 40 (A), Raul Garcia 71 (A)

Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke (Diego 82), Gabi; Adrian, Raul Garcia (Sosa 72), Arda Turan (Cristian Rodriguez 78); Diego Costa

Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Rami, Bonera, Emanuelson; De Jong (Muntari 78), Essien (Pazzini 69); Taarabt (Robinho 46), Poli, Kaka; Balotelli

Ref: Clattenburg (ENG)

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