Latest News

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fernando Torres sends Real Madrid packing

Atlético de Madrid are through to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals following their 2-2 draw versus Real Madrid in the return leg of the last 16 on Thursday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

Fernando Torres stunned the masses by scoring inside the first minute of each half to hand Atlético a decisive 4-2 advantage on aggregate in the tie. Sergio Ramos connected on a first half header and Cristiano Ronaldo did likewise in the second half for Real, who are eliminated from the competition that they won last season.

Outside of Keylor Navas starting in goal for Iker Casillas, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti went with his strongest starting XI as Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos and Marcelo were tasked with protecting the Costa Rican's goal. Toni Kroos, James and Isco formed the midfield while in attack, newly crowned Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was joined by Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Atlético boss Diego Simeone rolled out his familiar 4-2-3-1 with Fernando Torres once again starting up top as the lone striker. Supporting El Niño was Antoine Griezmann, Raúl García and Koke in the attacking midfield, while Tiago and Mario Suárez anchored in as holding midfielders. In defense there was a return of Joao Miranda, who paired with Diego Godín at center back, while Juanfran and Guilherme Siqueira slotted in as fullbacks in front of goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

The opening bell had just rung when Atlético quieted the raucous Bernabéu crowd and dropped Real on the canvas with a goal from Torres on 49 seconds. Griezmann did superbly to turn Pepe with a run down the right and the Frenchman crossed impeccably past Ramos for Torres and the prodigal son picked the perfect time to score his first goal since his return.

With the Torres goal, Real found themselves down 3-0 on aggregate and needed to score four in order to advance. Bale came close to equalizing with a sixth minute header, but Oblak, who was so solid in the first leg, was Johnny on the spot and snatched it away. Twelve minutes later Oblak then did well to clasp down on a loose ball right in front of goal that Ronaldo was inches away from poking in.

Yet two minutes later Oblak committed a horrific mistake in coming off his line on a Real free kick that was easy picking for Ramos, who smacked in a header to draw Real level 1-1 in the match, and cut the aggregate to 3-1. The goal lifted both the Real players and the crowd, and they were on the verge of another stadium-shaking roar in the 23rd minute as Ronaldo shot at an open goal, only to be denied by a last-gasp clearance from Suárez.

Real continued to bombard the Atlético area for the remainder of the half and seemed all but camped out in the Colchonero half, but were thwarted by the resolute defending from Simeone's men.

Viewers could be forgiven if they felt confused at the start of the second half, as it was a carbon copy of the first, with Atlético scoring their second and again it came through Torres inside the first minute. Atlético broke with Griezmann leading the charge before he slipped a pass to Torres, who sent Pepe sliding with a cut inside and swept a shot past Navas just 36 seconds after the break. The score gave the guests a 2-1 lead in the match and a 4-1 advantage on aggregate, with Real needing four goals to advance.

A flying header from Ronaldo in the 54th minute drew Los Blancos level in the match 2-2, as Bale lofted a perfect cross for the Portuguese to connect on, but heading into the final half hour Real still needed three goals. The goal from Ronaldo failed to re-ignite the Real attack and with each minute that ticked away, the confidence grew among Simeone's team, while a look of resignation dawned on the faces in white.

In the end, the only voices that could be heard emanated from the upper regions of the famed stadium as Atlético sent the cup holders spiraling out of the competition, and setting up a date with Barcelona in the next round.