Madrid, March 18: Atletico Madrid, last season's beaten Champions League finalists, won a penalty shootout against Bayer Leverkusen to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Fernando Torres netted the decisive penalty while Bayer striker Stefan Kiessling sent his into the stands to give the Spaniards a 3-2 triumph in the shootout after the tie had ended 1-1 after extra time, reports Xinhua.
The game kicked off with Bayer defending a 1-0 lead from first leg and with so much at stake in a finely balanced tie. It was not a surprise that the first half saw an intense game with a lot of stoppages as both sides gave everything in every challenge.
Atletico had to make a change in goal after just 20 minutes when Miguel Angel Moya suffered a muscle injury which saw him replaced by Jan Oblak.
It was a major blow for Atletico but the Spaniards had a stroke of luck to get them back on level terms when Mario Suarez's shot took a deflection to wrong foot the Bernd Leno in the Bayer goal and end up in the back of the net after 27 minutes.
Mario Mandzukic almost made it 2-0 just three minutes later when he was set clear by Arda Turam, only to dwell on the ball and allow the defence to close him down.
Mandzukic looked to pick up an injury at the end of the first half but it was Cani, a surprise starter, who was replaced by Raul Garcia for the second period as Torres remained in the Atletico dugout.
The second half saw more of the same as tension tightened its grip on both sides in a physical midfield war of attrition with the best chance falling to Arda after a left wing cross from Antoine Griezmann with just over 15 minutes remaining, although chances were few and far between as the number of fouls far outweighed the shot count.
Atletico were having the majority of the shots that there were and Bernd Leno saved from Arda with 10 minutes remaining. Torres replaced Mandzukic with seven minutes left but with no further goals before the 90th minute, the game went into extra time.
Turan was frustrated again by Leno at the start of the last 15 minutes while Simon Rolfes went close from distance for Bayer shortly afterwards, although the impression was that the Germans were happier to play for penalties, which turned out to be an error as they missed three out of five to go out of the tournament.