Atletico Madrid 1-0 (1-1) Bayer Leverkusen: Torres gets winner in gripping PK shootout

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Last season’s runners-up needed a win to advance in the UEFA Champions League, and Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 advantage after 90 minutes forced extra time with visiting Bayer Leverkusen at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.

There was tension, but not a lot of opportunity between the two sides (especially once Mario Suarez evened the score 1-1 on aggregate). penalty kicks changed that.

Atletico moved to 1-3 in UCL PK shootouts, while Bayer falls to 1-1. They can thank Turkish defender Omer Toprak, who had the goal deflect off him and then missed this side’s third PK attempt of the shootout.

Six of eight UCL quarterfinal berths are decided, with Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, AS Monaco, Porto and Bayern Munich all through.

Borussia Dortmund vs.Juventus and Barcelona vs. Manchester City round out the Round of 16 on Wednesday.

[ RELATED: Champions League schedule ]

source: APAtletico hit its first obstacle in the 23rd minute, as an injury forced veteran goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya off for 22-year-old Slovakian backstop Jan Oblak. The backup would prove more than able in a match that came down to kicks.

Mario Suarez returned the match to even footing with Atletico’s first shot on target of the night, a clearance off a free kick play that deflected off the foot of Toprak. It was 1-0 on the night, and 1-1 overall.

Leverkusen spent the majority of the first half hemmed in their own end. When they did counter, Oblak was aided by his quick defense, particularly Joao Miranda.

The second half found two sides playing quite different. Bayer sat back and counted on their team defense and keeper Bernd Leno, while Atlei looked happy to press for the goal that would end it.

Despite the addition of Fernando Torres to the fold in the 81st minute, the match went to extra time, where Stefan Kiessling’s cheeky shot through a defender’s legs bounded wide of the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

source: APA tense 15 minutes of extra time gave way to the break, leaving the clubs another 15 minutes away from the cruelty of a shootout. Leno made a two-handed stop on an in-tight shot from Arda Turan shortly after play resumed in extra time.

Raul Garcia airmailed the first PK, and Atletico was instantly in a hole. But only for a time, as Calhanoglu hit a weak ball down the middle that Oblak stopped easily. It was one of the worst PKs you’ll see.

Antoine Griezmann suffered no such problem, scoring before Rolfes equalized to make it 1-1 after two sets of shooters. Mario Suarez scored a borderline unstoppable goal before Toprak put a poor attempt over the bar. But Leno dove low and right to thwart a good shot from Koke. Wow!

Castro scored on Bayer’s next attempt to level things at two going into the fifth takers. Torres sent a beauty into the goal, and Oblak was on the clock to deal with Kiessling, who sent it over the bar.

LINEUPS

Atletico Madrid: Moya (Oblak, 23′), Juanfran, Miranda, Gimenez, Jesus Gamez, Cani (Raul Garcia, 46′), Mario Suarez, Koke, Turan, Griezmann, Mandzukic (Torres, 83′).

Goal: (Suarez, 27′)

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Wendell, Bellarabi, Castro, Bender (Papadopoulos, 105′), Son (Rolfes, 77′), Calhanoglu, Drmic (Kiessling, 70′)

PSG signs American defender Alana Cook from Stanford

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s team has signed American defender Alana Cook from Stanford University.

The 21-year-old Cook, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, has signed until June 2022. She was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year this season for her performances with Stanford and has represented the U.S. at Under-20 level.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

She played 93 games and scored five goals for Stanford.

PSG’s women’s team is second in the French first division and sits two points behind five-time European champion Lyon after 15 rounds.

Cook says “I really wanted to play in a European club and to play against the best teams in the world.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

MLS notes: Zimmerman spurns Europe, Vazquez sold, DC youngster in remission

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Let’s sweep up some good, somewhat-expected, and wonderful news from around Major League Soccer.

DC United defender and Maryland product Chris Odoi-Atsem announced that he is in remission after a fight with Stage Two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

Odoi-Atsem was expected to undergo four months of chemotherapy, and the announcement comes just under three months into the journey.

At 23, Odoi-Atsem hopes to rejoin the team after his final round of chemo later this month. He was the 12th overall draft pick in 2017.

Another defender is extending his stay in Los Angeles.

USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman was a huge part of LAFC’s success as an expansion club following his arrival from FC Dallas, and was reportedly ready to test the waters of European soccer with interest from the Premier League, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga.

But Bob Bradley pushed the right buttons and LAFC will have its 25-year-old mainstay back in the fold via a Targeted Allocation Money contract running through the 2022 season.

Finally, one of the key pieces to Toronto FC’s 2017 MLS Cup triumph is on his way out of Ontario.

Victor Vazquez is going to be sold to an unnamed Qatari club, pending a physical according to TSN’s Kristian Jack.

The 32-year-old scored posted 18 goals and 15 primary assists for TFC.

Transfer rumor roundup: Pellegrini to Man Utd? Dabbur wants Liverpool

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As Arsenal might be losing its head of recruitment, other Premier League movers and shakers are looking to bring big names to the Top Four fight.

If Northern Ireland is the hub for transfer movement, January is going to be a wild ride for one of the Premier League’s flagship clubs.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Manchester United is pursuing young Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini in addition to the whispers linking the club to former Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho.

Pellegrini, 22, has two goals and six assists for Roma this season, having become a regular call-up for Italy. He reportedly has a $35 million release clause in his contract, though he is cup-tied in the Champions League (Roma next faces Porto).

His 2.6 key passes per game lead Roma and only AC Milan’s Suso and Atalanta’s Alejandro Gomez average more across Serie A. Pellegrini is second on Roma in crosses with 1.5.

How does $115 million sound for an elite 27-year-old defender? That’s what Napoli would reportedly accept from Real Madrid to bring Kalidou Koulibaly west to Spain.

The report, which also links Real with interest in Roma’s Kostas Manolas and Porto’s Eder Miliato, says United remains interested in the player despite the exit of admirer Jose Mourinho.

Anything more than $97 million, the fee Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk, would break the world transfer record for a defender.

Meanwhile, Israeli striker Munas Dabbur is angling to bring his 20-goal season to Anfield.

Reports that Dabbur has turned down a move to Valencia in the hopes of joining Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino at Liverpool.

The Red Bull Salzburg striker has scored half of his 20 goals in the Champions League and Europa League, and has 11 Israel caps.

The cost for Dabbur is said to be $28 million, but is there any guarantee Dabbur can produce at a level that would demand playing time. Divock Origi has three goals in six matches and can hardly get time for the Reds, and Daniel Sturridge has only found 576 minutes in the first half of the season.

Arsenal to reportedly lose head of recruitment Mislintat

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The man expected to usher in an era of exciting new young talent at Arsenal may be leaving the club after less than 14 months.

Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, 46, has been hailed as the man who discovered Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while at Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Atlanta signs Watford teen ]

Well-connected reporter Raphael Honigstein says Mislintat is frustrated by a change in recruitment policy since Ivan Gazidis left the Emirates Stadium. Gazidis hired Mislintat to use analytics and stats to find diamonds, whereas new head of football Raul Sanllehi prefers to work his own network for players.

Mislintat is considered the key to bringing in Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as clear connections like former BVB center back Sokratis Papastathopolous.

His departure would be a shot across the bow of an organization which enjoyed stability under Gazidis and Arsene Wenger for years.