Sporting Clube de Portugal 2-2 Club Atlético de Madrid (agg: 2-2, Atlético win on away goals)
Sergio Agüero struck twice to take Atlético through after a tense struggle.
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Sergio Agüero struck twice to take Club Atlético de Madrid through to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after a tense struggle at Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Having twice taken the lead at the José Alvalade, following a scoreless first leg, Atlético were pegged back before the break through Liedson and then Anderson Polga. But the visitors survived several second-half scares to advance to Friday's draw on away goals.
There were predictions of another tight encounter in front of a 40,000-plus crowd in Lisbon but Atlético soon stated their intentions would be far from defensive as in the third minute Agüero deflected home Antonio López's centre at the near post for his club's 350th goal in European competition. That spurred Sporting into action and Carlos Carvalhal's side were on level terms in the 19th minute after Liedson jumped ahead of Luis Perea to head in Carlos Saleiro's cross from close range.
Much to the dismay of the previously vociferous home support, Atlético hit the front once more and it was the outstanding Agüero again on target, the Argentinian striker finishing superbly inside the area after leaving Polga and Pedro Mendes in his wake. Atlético's defence – perhaps musing over a first competitive victory on Portuguese soil – were caught out again soon after, though, with Anderson Polga allowed time and space to glance in Miguel Veloso's free kick from a central position.
The momentum now with Sporting, they began the second half searching for more openings and they went close when Saleiro forced David de Gea to turn his shot from a tight angle on to the outside of a post. The same player then turned provider for Liedson who made contact but could only deflect the ball wide.
Atlético needed a spark and their talisman Agüero looked to provide it when he made inroads into the Sporting defence before cutting back to José Antonio Reyes, who shot wide. Reyes again went close late on but the miss was not costly.