Jan Oblak's super saves keep Atleti on track in the Champions League
Atletico Madrid sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the fourth-consecutive season with an entertaining -- if low-quality -- 0-0 draw against Bayer Leverkusen to advance 4-2 on aggregate.
It was a strange atmosphere in the Spanish capital as both sides seemed to sense that the critical blows had been struck in the first leg.
Despite needing three goals to go through and dominating possession, the visitors did not muster a shot on target in the first period. Angel Correa and Koke were denied by stunning stops from Bernd Leno before the break and Los Rojiblancos survived a couple of hairy moments after the restart -- thanks to Jan Oblak -- to claim their place in the next round. Next up? Friday's draw.
It was very much a professional display from Atletico, keeping their opponents at arm's length for the most part. Oblak was the standout performer for the home side, while Sime Vrsaljko is quietly, unassumingly becoming a key piece of this Atletico side.
Once again Los Colchoneros did not look fully comfortable at the back and likewise the final ball was lacking at the other end. Still, that is nitpicking.
Manager rating out of 10
7 - Had to field an under-strength side, but set them up well enough to do what was necessary. Made a good tactical switch late on to shore things up.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 9 -- Could have had the proverbial pipe and slippers on in the first half, but was brilliant after the break. Kept his side level with an amazing triple save, before a full-length stop to deny Kevin Kampl at the death ensured a clean sheet.
DF Sime Vrsaljko, 8 -- Improving game upon a game. Had the beating of Wendell going forwards, while managed to keep Julian Brandt quiet for the most part. One last-ditch block prevented a certain goal, too.
DF Jose Maria Gimenez, 6 -- A rollercoaster performance. Was superb defensively for the first hour or so, but endured a five minute stretch in which he attempted a pathetic dive trying to win a penalty, hauled down Javier Hernandez to earn a booking and then gifted Brandt a one-on-one only to be bailed out by Oblak.
DF Diego Godin, 7 -- Still does not seem at his brilliant best, as illustrated by a couple of positional errors, but led the side well in Gabi's absence. Used his experience and nous to deal with "Chicharito" while proving a nuisance at the other end from set pieces.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 6 -- Looked a bit nervy early on against the pace of the visitors but grew into the game in that sense. Not the best going forward, but then again, he is not a natural full-back.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 5 -- One of those nights where everything he tried went wrong. Passed to the opposition, tried stepovers and left the ball behind, shot when he should have passed -- you get the picture. Subbed.
MF Koke, 7 -- Almost looked like he could not believe Leno had kept his rasping low drive out in the first period. Always asks for the ball but was seldom given it, and when he did get it there was little movement in front of him.
MF Thomas Partey, 7 -- A first start in the competition for the unpredictable Ghanaian. Did not offer much defensively, but as those around him grew tired he still looked full of energy and pressed well. Gabi will not be losing much sleep over his starting berth.
MF Saul Niguez, 6 -- Could not get into the game when Atleti had possession, but put in a tireless shift going backwards, helping Lucas against Brandt and Karim Bellarabi all night and that cannot be underestimated.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 5 -- Not his night. Looked isolated and dropped too deep in order to try and get involved. When he did pick up the ball he was either crowded out or his touch let him down.
FW Angel Correa, 6 -- His performance pretty much summed Los Rojiblancos' night. Shot when he should have squared, denied by a wonderful save and saw an effort fly just past the post after doing all the hard work. Subbed after picking up a knock.
Nicolas Gaitan (for Correa), 5 -- Anonymous for half an hour.
Savic (for Carrasco), NR -- Came on as part of a tactical reshuffle to help see the game out and made one clearance from under the crossbar.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.