Atleti, Benfica advance to Champions League quarterfinals

Sports Desk, Mar 15 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid blanked Manchester United 1-0 Tuesday at Old Trafford to win the Champions League knockout stage 2-1 on aggregate and reach the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition for the sixth time in 11 years under coach Diego Simeone.

A similar scenario unfolded in Amsterdam, where hosts Ajax fell 1-0 to Benfica and the Portuguese side advanced 3-2 on aggregate.

Atleti, who won LaLiga last season but are currently fourth, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, produced a solid team performance and Jan Oblak reaffirmed his status as an elite goalkeeper.

The Slovenian denied United’s Anthony Elanga in the 13th minute, three minutes before David De Gea made a great stop at the other end against Rodrigo de Paul.

Joao Felix beat De Gea from the far post in the 33rd minute, only to see the goal disallowed because Marcos Llorente was offside.

With four minutes left in the first half, Felix and Antoine Griezmann combined to get the ball to Renan Lodi, who headed home to put Atleti up 1-0 on the night and 2-1 overall.

Bruno Fernandes’ bid for the equalizer just before the break was turned aside by Oblak for a corner.

De Paul tested De Gea early in the second half and the sides traded shots over the cross-bar before Oblak made a double-save in the 77th minute, thwarting Rafael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo in succession on what proved to be United’s last charge.

Ajax were dominant against visiting Benfica, with 69 percent possession and 16 shots to their opponents’ two, yet the Dutch team never seriously troubled keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

As the final 10 minutes of regulation approached, Ajax keeper Andre Onana came off his line in a failed attempt to stop Alex Grimaldo’s ball into the box and Darwin Nuñez scored into the unguarded net to win the tie for Benfica. EFE msg-dmu/dr

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