Atletico Madrid edged past 2013 UEFA Champions League winners FC Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to reach their second final in three years following their thrilling away goals victory (Aggregate 2-2).
The La Liga title contenders, who currently lie level on points with FC Barcelona in the Spanish top-flight, will face either Real Madrid and Manchester City in the grand final after their narrow 2-1 defeat in Germany on Tuesday night.
Trailing 1-0 from the first-leg at the Vicente Calderon Stadium last week, Pep Guardiola’s hosts levelled the semi-final clash through Xabi Alonso’s deflected free-kick – the first goal Atletico had conceded in 632 minutes of play in all competitions.
The Bundesliga leaders then had the chance to take a 2-1 aggregate lead, but Slovenia international goalkeeper Jan Oblak brilliantly saved Thomas Muller’s spot-kick after 34 minutes.
Bayern were then punished for their inability to score from 12 yards out shortly after half-time when France star Antoine Griezmann coolly fired home Diego Simeone’s visitors’ equaliser.
The 25-year-old is Atletico’s top goalscorer in Champions League history after increasing his personal tally to nine – with seven of those strikes coming in this term’s competition.
Robert Lewandowski’s header set up a tense finish with just 16 minutes remaining inside the Allianz Arena, but Atletico eventually held on, despite wasting a golden opportunity to extend their advantage when former Chelsea striker Fernando Torres missed a penalty of his own in the 84th minute.
Despite vigorously pushing for that all-important third goal, one that would have taken Bayern to their first final since defeating German rivals Borussia Dortmund back in 2013 at Wembley Stadium, but Guardiola’s giants couldn’t find a way past the brilliant Oblak in the opposing goal.
Atletico will face fierce rivals Real Madrid or Premier League outfit Manchester City, who play each other tonight (Wednesday) at the Bernabeu, in the final in Milan on May 28.
Simeone’s side will be hoping they will be third time lucky in just over three weeks in their next Champions League finale, with the Spaniards having lost both of their previous two appearances in the final of Europe’s elite club competition – falling short against Bayern back in 1974 before succumbing to Real Madrid just two years ago in Lisbon.
Furthermore; Atletico reached the final in spectacular style on Tuesday night, booking their place at the San Siro later this month after celebrating their 100th game in the Champions League.
Meanwhile in the opposite dugout, incoming Man City boss Guardiola will be leaving the Allianz Arena for the Etihad Stadium this summer having failed to win the Champions League during his three-year reign in Germany – something he achieved twice at previous club Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.