Atletico Madrid reach Champions League by thrashing Schalke

August 28th, 2008 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Aug 28 (DPA) Atletico Madrid powered their way into the Champions League with an impressive 4-0 thrashing of German giants Schalke 04.The handsome win Wednesday put the Spaniards through on a 4-1 aggregate, since they lost 1-0 two weeks ago in Gelsenkirchen against the German team.

Atletico have not reached the Champions League since 1997 and the capacity crowd in the Estadio Calderon celebrated wildly.

“This was a really important night for us,” said Argentine midfielder Maxi Rodriguez.

“The fans were wonderful, and they deserve this after all they have suffered in the past few years.”

Teenage idol Sergio Aguero pushed Atletico ahead in the 19th minute, deflecting in a cross-shot from Luis Perea after Schalke’s Marcelo Bordon had cleared a Diego Forlan shot off the line.

Seven minutes into the second half Forlan made it 2-0 for Atletico with a low left-foot drive.

In the 63rd minute Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi failed to convert a centre from Heiko Westermann. From then on Schalke lost confidence in their ability to save the tie.

Seven minutes from time supersub Luis Garcia made it 3-0 on a pass from Aguero. Three minutes later - with the fans already celebrating - Christian Pander pulled down Simao Sabrosa for a penalty - and was sent off with a second yellow card.

Maxi Rodriguez calmly put away the spot-kick - signalling it was time for the fiesta in Madrid to begin.

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