There wasn’t too much football in the first leg of the knockout stage between AC Milan and Atletico Madrid, but there was one goal from goal from Diego Costa off a late corner kick that gave us the fourth away win from the first four matches, and a lead that looks very promising for Diego Simeone’s side.
Milan tried more. Kaka hit the woodwork, Urby Emanuelson covered a lot of ground and Mario Balotelli huffed and puffed but couldn’t really trouble Courtois or Diego Godin. On the other side, Raul Garcia and Godin were the ones with good chances for Atletico Madrid. Arda Turan had a couple of chances that one might consider dangerous.
However, what we’ll mostly remember from the first 83 minutes were the hard tackles mostly coming from the Atletico side of the pitch. Three players ended up getting booked, and it’s a wonder that it wasn’t more.
The goal came from Atletico’s specialtty – set pieces, which is something of a rarity among La Liga teams. Atletico began pushing up the pitch in the last 15 minutes, while Milan’s front, not exactly drowning in quality due to suspensions and injuries, seemed to fade away into the background, unable to respond.
A corner kick was dealt terribly by Abate, heading backwards for some reason. Diego Costa was left wide open from five meters to score his fifth goal of the competition this season, and give Atletico Madrid a lead that seems good enough to put them in the quarterfinals for the first time since Simeone was a player on the team.
AC Milan look more confident and with more fire under Seedorf than they did with Allegri, but it’s not enough to make up for their inferiority in quality. Atletico Madrid would have been pleased with 0-0, they didn’t deserve much more. However, at the moment, they’re good enough to not try too hard to score and still come away with a big win from the San Siro.