Sports Desk, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie to win 3-0 on aggregate and advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014.
After reaching the final twice in three years in the middle of the previous decade, losing to Real Madrid on both occasions, Atleti have made it to the last eight just once in the last four years.
Though Atletico came into Stamford Bridge trailing 0-1 thanks to Olivier Giroud’s goal on a spectacular overhead kick in the first leg in Madrid, Diego Simeone stuck with his trademark emphasis on defense.
Instead of pressing for an equalizer, the Colchoneros sat back and waited for the Blues – undefeated in 12 matches under new coach Thomas Tuchel – to make a mistake.
And for a moment, the strategy looked like paying off when Yannick Carrasco went down in the box in the 26th minute after a tug from Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Atleti bench rose as one and assistant coach Oscar Ortega turned to the cameras, shouting “VAR! VAR!” But the referee was unmoved and declined to review the play.
Eight minutes later, Chelsea’s trio of high-priced summer transfer window signings combined to put the hosts up 2-0 in the tie.
Kai Havertz released German compatriot Timo Werner down the left side. The former RB Leipzig man sent the ball across the front to Hakim Ziyech, who beat Jan Oblak.
Going behind by two spurred the Colchoneros and Joao Felix forced a stop from Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in the 38th minute.
Oblak prevented Werner from settling the contest three minutes into the second half and the Slovene was called on again in the 56th minute to deny Ziyech.
Mendy needed quick reflexes to turn aside a shot from Felix that took a strange deflection off Azpilicueta with 11 minutes left, but Atleti’s prospects grew even dimmer in the 81st minute, when Stefan Savic was sent off with a straight red card for an elbow to Antonio Rüdiger ahead of a corner.
The Blues keeper had to stretch to tip a strike from Felix over the bar in stoppage time, two minutes before late sub Emerson Palmieri scored on his first touch for the 2-0. EFE