After being teased by the football gods that a miraculous comeback might just be possible, Atletico Madrid once again had their dreams snatched away as their eternal nemesis Real Madrid grabbed the away goal they needed to advance into their third Champions League final in four seasons.
The previous two finals, of course, resulted in nail-biting victories over Atletico, who must be wondering what they have to do in order to claim European football’s biggest prize.
But the hard reality is that their awful performance in last week’s first leg at the Bernabeu just left them with too much to do, and even a stunning, swashbuckling start last night wasn’t enough to save them.
Below is how we rated both sets of players, our final verdict and man of the match.
Jan Oblak – 7
Jose Maria Gimenez – 6
Stefan Savic – 7
Diego Godin – 8
Filipe Luis – 6
Yannick Carrasco – 8
Saul Niguez – 7
Gabi (capt) – 6
Koke – 7
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Fernando Torres – 5
Kevin Gameiro for Torres (56′, 6), Thomas Partey for Giminez (57′, 6), Angel Correa for Koke (76′)
Coach: Diego Simeone – Outstanding team performance to restore credibility and self-respect 8/10
Keylor Navas – 7
Danilo – 6
Raphael Varane – 5
Sergio Ramos (capt) – 6
Marcelo – 6
Luka Modric – 8
Casemiro – 6
Toni Kroos – 8
Isco – 8
Cristiano Ronaldo – 5
Karim Benzema – 7
Lucas Vazquez for Casemiro (77′), Marco Asensio for Benzema (77′), Alvaro Morata for Isco (88′)
Coach: Zinedine Zidane – Instilled his team with the self-belief to keep calm at two down 7/10
When Real Madrid needed a goal, their best player in the last few weeks was again the man to –provide it.
And that was by no means Isco’s only contribution, with the Spain international showing all his quality with an occasionally dazzling display. Surely Zidane can’t leave him out now?
A magnificent performance from Atletico Madrid wasn’t enough as Real Madrid just about did enough.
Torrential rainfall in the closing stages provided a symbolic ending to a stormy encounter, which could have been so different if Isco hadn’t scored the away goal which killed the tie just before the break.
Real finished the night celebrating after controlling the midfield for the final hour, but they had been pushed extremely hard and Atletico will only be wondering why they didn’t play like this in the first leg.
Tony Adams believes he will be harshly judged given the resources available to him for his ill-fated short spell at Granada after his already relegated side were thrashed 4-0 by Real Madrid on Saturday.
Despite making nine changes the European champions outclassed Granada as James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata both scored doubles inside the first 35 minutes.
However, Adams believes Real boss Zinedine Zidane has a far easier job as his side close in on a first La Liga and Champions League double for 59 years.
“No disrespect to Zidane but swap teams please,” said the former Arsenal captain, who has lost all five games in charge since replacing Lucas Alvarez last month.
“I’ve had to work there, pull people off, change people, plug holes, put (my) experience when kids are on the floor and you really have to work as a coach when the players are at another level to Real Madrid.
“It’s a learning experience for me, but I’ve done it before and I’d like a good team one day.”
In contrast to his success as a player, Adams has had an undistinguished managerial career in spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and in Azerbaijan with Gabala.
However, he hinted he was forced into the role at Granada having worked as an advisor to the club’s Chinese owner Jiang Lizhang.
“When he asked me to do it, then told me to do it, I think I was the only person that could realistically make the transition with these players. I’m on a hiding to nothing.”
And Adams believes he can yet prove to be a success as a coach if given the right resources.
“I didn’t enjoy that first-half that’s for sure and I would like to have my own team one day but that’s personal and that’s not why I’m here,” he added.
“If the president asks me when we are top of the table next season to take the last seven games when we are 10 points clear I think I might enjoy that a little bit more.”
By contrast, Zidane has so far matched his stellar playing career as a coach as Real need just seven points from their last three La Liga games to guarantee a first league title in five years.
And they hold a commanding 3-0 semi-final, first leg lead over Atletico Madrid as Los Blancos look to become the first side in 27 years to retain the Champions League.
“After nine months of competition we have done very well. We still have to play a perfect game in the second leg on Wednesday and then we have three finals in La Liga.”
Zidane changed his side significantly for the fourth straight away league game. However, once again the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo weren’t missed as Real have won all four of those games, scoring 17 goals in the process.
And Zidane believes his rotation policy has ensured Madrid end the season strongly. “Over nine months if you play every game, sometimes you are empty by the end of the season. We are the opposite, physically we are very strong and that is good news for the end of the season.”
If there were any doubts about Real Madrid losing ground in their La Liga title race, because of important Champions League games, Zinedine Zidane’s men have now cleared them.
Playing away against Granada, the Whites made it look all too easy (despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence), after braces apiece from James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata secured a 4-0 win.
Los Blancos have now taken their impressive goalscoring run to 60 games, meaning they now stand only one behind Bayern Munich’s all-time European record. The below stat from AS shows just that.
Having scored at least one goal in their last 60 consecutive games, it goes a long way to explaining why Real have been so dominant as they look to win two trophies this term.
They next face rivals Atletico Madrid in the second-leg of the Champions League semi-final.