Lukas Hradecky's penalty save sent Atletico crashing out of the Champions League
Madrid (AFP) - Yannick Carrasco missed a penalty, awarded by VAR after the final whistle was initially blown, as Atletico Madrid crashed out of the Champions League following a dramatic 2-2 home draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
After Porto’s 4-0 victory over already-qualified Club Brugge, Atletico needed three points to set up a winner-takes-all meeting in Portugal next week.
But despite fighting back from behind twice, the La Liga club somehow failed to find a winner and now face a battle with Leverkusen just for a Europa League place.
“The Champions League has been cruel to me,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
“We lost two finals (2014 and 2016), one on penalties and another in the 93rd minute…
“But I’m hard-headed and I will continue to try as long as I have the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League and then find the something we lack.”
Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen led twice thanks to goals from Moussa Diaby and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
But Carrasco’s first-half strike and Rodrigo de Paul’s equaliser gave Atletico 40 minutes to keep their Champions League campaign alive.
In chaotic scenes, the players were called back onto the pitch after VAR spotted a handball from the final attack of the game.
But Carrasco’s spot-kick was saved by Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, Saul Niguez headed the rebound off the bar and Reinildo Mandava’s following effort was diverted away by a last-ditch block.