UEFA Champions League
Champions League: Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund round out quarterfinals
UEFA Champions League

Champions League: Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund round out quarterfinals

Published Mar. 13, 2024 7:28 p.m. ET

The 2023-24 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are set after Borussia Dortmund and Atlético Madrid claimed the two remaining places with stirring wins on Wednesday. 

Dortmund took a 2-1 aggregate lead over PSV Eindhoven in Wednesday's decisive second match of the home-and-home when Jadon Sancho scored less than three minutes into the contest — a goal that stood up as the series clincher.

Inter, last year's runner-up, also scored early to boost its advantage to 2-0 Wednesday in Madrid. But the hosts pulled one right back, scored another via Memphis Depay in the 87th minute, then beat the Nerazzurri on penalties to advance.

Here are three quick thoughts on Wednesday's results.


Sancho's early goal sends Dortmund on its way

If PSV was going to have any chance in front of Dortmund's "Yellow Wall" of fans at the Westfalenstadion, they needed not to give away an early goal. So when Sancho snuck a relatively tame shot between the near post and visiting keeper Walter Benítez before some fans had so much as taken their seats, the glum look on the face of manager Peter Bosz — who briefly coached BVB back in 2017 — just about said it all.

Dortmund bossed a stunned PSV for most of the first half after that, badly outshooting the hosts and controlling the ball more than 60-percent of the time.

The visitors recovered toward the end of the first 45 minutes. After the break, they poured on the pressure and probably were the better team. But as was the case tw weeks ago in Eindhoven, the Dutch side's finishing touch just wasn't there. Sure enough, shortly after Luuk de Jong blazed the best chance of the match for Bosz's team over the BVB crossbar, Marco Reus pounced on a slip by PSV defender Isaac Babadi, raced in alone on goal and calmly put the outcome beyond doubt. 

Atlético Madrid completes comeback over Inter Milan

Inter, the losing finalists from a year ago, looked poised for another deep run this season when Federico Dimarco gave them a 1-0 lead in the Spanish capital and a two-goal cushion overall.

But Antoine Griezmann responded for Atléti almost immediately, a lifeline that put the ending back in some doubt. And it stayed that way until the very last kick of the ball.

Still trailing by a goal on aggregate, the hosts threw numbers forward in each of the series equalizer for most of the second half. They finally got it through Memphis Depay with just three minutes of normal time remaining:

With both the crowd and the momentum against them, Inter captain Lauturo Martinez's header grazed the Atléti post in extra time. And cruelly, it was the Argentine World Cup winner who missed the final penalty kick in the ensuing tiebreaker to send Madrid's other titan back to the quarters for the third time in five seasons.

Star-studded quarterfinals up next

While we won't know what the rest of the knockout stage bracket looks like until Friday's draw at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, the last eight boasts a murderers' row of continental superpowers.

The remaining clubs have 27 European titles between them. Just three (Atlético Madrid, Arsenal, and Paris Saint-Germain) have never hoisted the club game's most coveted trophy, though all have previously reached a final.

Perhaps the world's three top current players — PSG's Kylian Mbappé, Manchester City's Erling Haaland and Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham — will be front and center when the competition resumes next month. The first games of these can't-miss quarters kick off on April 9.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men's and women's national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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