A double from Diego Costa and goals from Arda Turan and Raul Garcia took Atletico Madrid into the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Milan 4-1.
Costa came back into the starting XI after serving a suspension at the weekend, whilst David Villa was dropped, with Raul Garcia playing off the Rojiblancos’ top scorer. The Italian side meanwhile, gave starts to former Real Madrid duo Michael Essien and Kaka, with Mario Balotelli leading the line.
With a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Diego Simeone’s men knew that an early goal could settle the nerves in a red-hot Vicente Calderon. And after just three minutes, they got exactly that. A cross from Koke found Costa, who volleyed past Christian Abbiati from inside the six yard box.
The home side were vastly superior in the opening exchanges, pressing the Italians into submission, and feeding off the atmosphere created by the supporters. And they almost doubled their lead on the night after only 10 minutes, but Diego Godin’s effort from a corner went wide of the post.
Clarence Seedorf’s men were completely blunt in attack – in part thanks to some resolute defending from the Colcheneros, but also thanks to a lack of creativity and poor movement. Mario Balotelli had their only real effort on 24 minutes, but Thibaut Courtois was more than equal to a poor strike.
But completely against the run of play, the Serie A outfit got back on level terms with nearly half an hour gone. Atleti’s pressure eased off for Andrea Poli to get in a cross, for Kaka to head home at the far post.
The hosts looked shell-shocked after the goal from the Brazilian, and he could have even put the Rossoneri ahead late on in the half, but his header, this time, went over the bar, despite being unmarked inside the penalty area.
But it was a stroke of huge fortune that meant the Rojiblancos regained the lead before half time. A long ball up to Costa was chested down by the Spain international to Turan, and his deflected shot wrong-footed the goalkeeper and nestled into the back of the net.
After the interval, it was almost an exact repeat of the first 45 – this time however, Costa’s shot went wide of the left-hand post rather than nestling inside of it.
But it was Gabi who went even closer soon after. A pulsating breakaway from a Milan corner resulted in the captain galloping towards goal – his effort from the edge of the area though, rattled off the outside of the right-hand post.
The capital club had now shaken off their slight blip earlier in the game and were really coming into their own. Gabi and Koke were pulling the strings in the middle of the park, but it was Raul Garcia who almost sealed the tie – his turn and shot however, went over Abbiati’s bar.
But the former Osasuna man soon made amends, as on 70 minutes, the second striker leapt highest from a Koke free kick to head home past the goalkeeper.
And the icing was well and truly put on the cake with five minutes remaining as Costa was laid in on goal, and the new Spain international fired across goal and into the far corner.
Atletico Madrid 4-1 Milan (5-1 on aggregate)
Scorers: Diego Costa 3, 85 (AM) Arda Turan 41 (AM) Raul Garcia 70 (AM); Kaka 28 (M)
Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe; Mario Suarez, Koke (Diego 81), Arda Turan (Rodriguez 78), Gabi; Raul Garcia (Sosa 71); Diego Costa
Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Essien (Pazzini 69), De Jong (Muntari 78); Poli, Kaka, Taarabt (Robinho 45); Balotelli