The Malta Independent 22 November 2017, Wednesday

Monaco oust Manchester City on away goals rule, Atletico Madrid eliminate Bayer Leverkusen

Associated Press Thursday, 16 March 2017, 06:25 Last update: about 9 months ago

Monaco is the team to fear when the Champions League draw is made on Friday.

That's the view of coach Leonardo Jardim, the architect of a staggering attack that has scored 126 goals this season. Monaco topped up its goal tally on Wednesday night, beating Manchester City 3-1 to reach the last eight on the away goals rule after losing 5-3 in the first leg of their Round of 16 match.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Leicester are the other teams in the draw.

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Asked if Monaco should be fearing sides or they should be fearing Monaco, he was clear.

"It's more a case of the latter," Jardim said.

Monaco advanced despite missing its 24-goal top scorer Radamel Falcao through injury and its best defender Kamil Glik through suspension.

"Falcao out, Glik out. Not many people thought we had a chance to qualify," Jardim said. "I always defend Ligue 1. France has good teams, good players, good managers."

The Portuguese coach has instilled huge belief into this side, which is on course for a domestic treble.

"I thought if we scored three we would go through and the players had that in mind," he said. "English teams have suited us well in the last couple of years. We knocked out Arsenal (in the Round of 16 in 2015) and we beat Tottenham twice this season (in the group stage)."

Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko's thumping 77th-minute header sent Monaco through.

City fought back from 2-0 down and was momentarily in control after midfielder Leroy Sane's 71st-minute goal. But Bakayoko rose imperiously to meet Thomas Lemar's curling free kick as the contest finished 6-6 on aggregate.

"Monaco deserved to go through," Jardim said. "Even in the first leg, City had a bit of luck."

City coach Pep Guardiola lamented the fact that his side had failed to compete in the first half.

"At this level, you have to play more than 45 minutes," Guardiola said. "The gap between the first and the second halves is there."

Confirming his reputation as a rising star of European football, Monaco's 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe scored from close range in the eighth minute for his 11th goal in 11 games.

Brazilian midfielder Fabinho made it 2-0 in the 29th with a crisp shot from near the penalty spot after excellent work by left back Benjamin Mendy.

Three weeks ago, City had rallied from 3-2 down with three goals in the last 20 minutes and Pep Guardiola's side needed another comeback on the French Riviera.

City played much better in the second half, with Sane scoring after top scorer Sergio Aguero had missed good chances.

The fleet-footed Sane smashed the ball into the roof of the net after Danijel Subasic's save from Raheem Sterling's low shot fell right into his path.

But it was not enough, and Monaco's lap of honor was richly deserved.

Jan Oblak made one great stop. Then another. And another. All within a few seconds.

Oblak's spectacular triple-save midway through the second half helped Atletico Madrid draw 0-0 with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday and reach the Champions League quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.

"Sometimes you make three saves, and sometimes they score a goal with the first attempt," Oblak said. "It is difficult to explain. I saw the ball and went for it. I reacted quickly and everything went well for me."

Oblak came up big every time Leverkusen got close to his goal, proving crucial for Atletico as it protected its 4-2 first-leg victory in the Round of 16.

"That's why we say that he is the best goalkeeper in the world," Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann said. "He shows it in every match, and showed it again (tonight)."

Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno also played well to keep Atletico from capitalizing on its chances at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Leverkusen was trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since it lost to Real Madrid in the 2002 final. The German club was eliminated by Atletico at this same stage in a penalty shootout two seasons ago, when Oblak also thrived with an important penalty save.

The goalkeeper made amazing back-to-back saves on Wednesday after a mistake by Atletico defender Jose Gimenez led to a dangerous breakaway for Leverkusen in the 68th minute.

Oblak first stopped Julian Brandt's attempt in a one-on-one, then immediately threw himself in front of the goal to keep Kevin Volland from scoring from the rebound, and again outstretched his arms to block Volland's other attempt from close range.

The German club still had another chance in the same move, but the shot by Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez missed wide of the far post as Oblak watched.

Oblak later made two other key stops to keep out dangerous shots by Leon Bailey and Kevin Kampl.

"Congratulations to Atletico and Oblak. He made a lot of great saves," Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut said. "We couldn't get into our dynamic. The side played well, we created chances, had some good ones, a quadruple one, but still we could not score."

Leno had prevented Atletico from scoring with a superb fingertip save after a close-range shot by Angel Correa in the 38th, and again with a great stop to a low shot by Koke two minutes later.

"Luck wasn't on our side. Oblak had to make three really good saves," Leno said. "It was still a really good performance from us, and definitely a step in the right direction. We proved that we're capable of matching teams like Atletico if we play to our potential. We can be proud of our performance this evening."

Leverkusen was playing only its second match under Korkut, who was appointed last week after the club fired previous coach Roger Schmidt amid its worst Bundesliga season in 14 years.

Atletico is trying to return to the final after losing to Real Madrid last season. Diego Simeone's team also lost to the city rival in the Champions League final in 2014.

Atletico has only two losses in its last 34 home matches in European competitions.

In the night's other second-leg match, Monaco beat Manchester City 3-1 at home to advance on the away goals rule after their contest finished 6-6 on aggregate.

Atletico and Monaco will be joined in Friday's draw for the quarterfinals by holders Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Leicester.


 


 

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