Real Madrid made it back to the Champions League quarterfinals by taking advantage of Atalanta’s expensive goalkeeping move.
After a first-half blunder by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, who was among the changes made by coach Gian Piero Gasperini from the 1-0 first-leg loss in Italy, Madrid beat Atalanta 3-1 on Tuesday to progress 4-1 on aggregate after two consecutive eliminations in the last 16. Karim Benzema led the way to victory after a first-half blunder by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, who was among the changes
“I have no reservations about my initial decisions,” According to Gasperini. “We couldn’t afford to make mistakes, so we set out to do better. It’s a shame.”
Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio each scored a goal in the final minutes to ensure Madrid’s victory.
In the second half, captain Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio each scored a goal to secure Madrid’s win. Luis Muriel converted a free kick late in the game to give Atalanta the lead.
“The target was to advance, and we came out with a desire to win the game,” Ramos explained. “We had complete control of the game and had opportunities to score even more.”
Sportiello attempted to play from his area, but his shot was misdirected, and the ball went straight to Luka Modric, who entered the box and made a low pass to Benzema, who scored a simple goal near the penalty spot in the 34th minute. After replacing Pierluigi Gollini after the first leg, Sportiello has been starting in Serie A ever since.
Benzema’s goal was his 70th in the Champions League, making him just the fifth player to do so after Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, and Ral González. Just Ronaldo, Messi, and Lewandowski have played 126 more matches than the French striker.
After a spectacular debut season in Europe’s elite club competition, Atalanta was aiming to make it to the last eight for the second year in a row. It had won all of its Champions League away games this season, including matches against Liverpool and Ajax.
It pushed up front frequently in an attempt to push Madrid into errors, but it was in vain, as the hosts maintained charge for the majority of the match at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium.
Between 2010-11 and 2017-18, Madrid had reached the semifinals or better eight times in a row, before losing in the last 16 to Ajax in 2019 and Manchester City last season.