Depay the Hero, Oblak the Wall: Atlético Madrid Advance After Penalty Marathon

We watched an incredibly exciting match and the final winner was decided by penalties

by Sededin Dedovic
Depay the Hero, Oblak the Wall: Atlético Madrid Advance After Penalty Marathon
© David Ramos / Getty Images

In a dramatic Champions League match that could have gone either way, the final decision came down to penalties. In the witching moment, Lautaro Martínez, of all players, was the one to curl his effort over the net, sealing Inter's fate.

Inter's best player has suddenly become a tragic figure, and we will see how this will affect his games in the rest of the season. Inter has been reborn since the beginning of the new year and has certainly taken first place in the Italian league with a 16 point lead.

Considering the big advantage in Serie A, it was expected that Inter will come fully prepared for the match because they can rest the most important games in Serie A. However, for the first time in 2024, Inter tasted defeat, a bitter pill to swallow considering their dominant streak.

It was the second penalty shootout in as many days for the competition, a rarity that has been missing for nearly a decade. The match was expected to be very tough, both teams are known for this style of play and a large number of goals was certainly not expected.

With the style of play of these two teams, three goals were surprisingly scored and almost in the last minutes, Memphis Depay brought victory for Atletico in the regular part and led his team to extra time. Memphis Depay became their incredible hero and in the end he confidently scored a penalty before Jan Oblak secured the victory with an acrobatic save.

A very exciting match could have gone in any direction, and in addition to Depay, the goalkeeper of Atlético saved his net several times in the regular part of the match. Jan Oblak had several spectacular saves, but since we are all used to his consistently good games, his masterpieces always go unnoticed.

The deficit in the first leg was overturned, along with the goal conceded at the start of the second leg. Atlético even withstood a missed penalty by Saúl Ñíguez, which was saved by Yann Sommer.

However, both Alexis Sánchez and Davy Klaassen were thwarted by Oblak's heroics. Exhaustion could not dampen Atlético's elation as they emerged victorious. Both teams pushed themselves to the limit over two grueling hours and even the ball boys reflected the intensity from the opening whistle.

However, in such an important match, no one looked tired and that resulted in a good game to watch, and the audience was certainly satisfied with the soccer they saw, except maybe the Inter fans. The final stages, however, reached fever pitch with drama and tension.

Jan Oblak, Pablo Barrios and Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid shake hands at full-time© Denis Doyle / Getty Images

Desperate to overturn defeat at the San Siro, Atlético wasted no time, firing home within three minutes through Stefan Savic.

This was more than they managed in the entire first game. They almost took the lead when Samuel Lino dispossessed Nicolò Barello, eluded Stefano de Vrij and sent a powerful shot that Sommer parried. Early on, Inter showed a sharpness that suggested a quick resolution.

Denzel Dumfries forced Oblak into a double save, showing their attacking prowess. The deadlock was finally broken in the 33rd minute when Federico Dimarco finished a move started by Martínez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alessandro Bastoni and finally Barella.

Inter fans erupted in celebration, and the feeling was quickly dampened by Atlético's equaliser. Benjamin Pavard's comical own goal, which completely missed the clearance, left Antoine Griezmann with a simple tap-in.

He had a great chance again but Sommer saved it. Marcos Llorente created another chance for him later, but Alvaro Morata missed his shot. Inter squandered golden opportunities at the other end, with Martinez setting up Marcus Thuram and then Barela, who both failed to convert.

It was clear that despite the great desire, the players of Inter were not even lucky. This set the stage for a frantic finale in which Atlético threw everything at Inter. Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, who is known for his explosive nature, even injured himself celebrating with his players, collapsing face down on the pitch after Griezmann set up Rodrigo Riquelme for a potential winner in the dying seconds.

The shot went over, but Riquelme redeemed himself by converting a penalty later on. Simeone knows how to create team spirit in the locker room and get the most out of his players, which he has convinced us countless times so far.

Mirroring the resilience of their players, Simeone rose again, defying fatigue and pushing on. Surely one of the best coaches of the last decade found a solution to beat the invincible Inter in 2024 and advance in the Champions League.