|(Champions League) Atletico hammer Milan
Diego Costa's (Pictured, left) breakout season continued to be the catalyst to Atletico Madrid's success as it beat AC Milan 4-1 to reach the Champions League quarterfinals yesterday for the first time since 1997.
Diego Costa added two more goals to his season tally, jumping high to stab home at the far post following a Milan turnover just three minutes into a raucous contest at the capacity Vicente Calderon Stadium, AP reports.
Kaka gave Milan some hope by canceling out the opener in the 27th only to rue a glaring miss moments before Arda Turan volleyed over Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati to put Atletico back in front.
With Milan striker Mario Balotelli ineffective, Atletico choked its opponent with constant pressure after the restart and slowly began to pull away with Raul Garcia heading home before Diego Costa completed the 5-1 aggregate win with his 29th goal of the season.
Milan's exit left Europe's top-tier tournament without an Italian team in the last eight.
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich eliminated Arsenal 3-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at home.
Atletico's near 50,000 fans provided the Spanish club with extra pep throughout, but especially at the start when the hosts dominated a Milan team that seemed a step behind.
Michael Essien was particularly exposed by Atletico's speed, and his turnover led Koke to set up Diego Costa for the acrobatic opener.
Milan began to dominate possession and bounced back into the contest.
Despite a weak effort from Balotelli, Milan made Atletico pay for its lethargic play as Kaka reached Andrea Poli's cross at the far post to head off defender Juanfran Torres and beyond goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Kaka should have made it 2-1 after another defensive lapse by Atletico, but the Brazilian headed over while alone in the box.
That miss proved costly as Turan chested the ball down in the 40th for a quick volley that took a deflection and dipped over Abbiati.
Balotelli's frustration got the better of him as he was booked for protesting before half time, the Italy striker looking sullen and adrift of his teammates for most of the match. All of Atletico's players, meanwhile, seemed to be contributing as the Spanish upstarts also thrived off the boot of Diego Costa.
Garcia rose high to nod home a free kick in the 70th before Diego Costa capped the rout, with the Spain striker dragging the loose ball between Milan defenders before setting up to cut a low shot beyond Abbiati.