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UCL Wednesday Rewind: Real Madrid closes the door on Atletico, return to final

Defending UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid booked their spot back in the final with a 2-1 loss on Wednesday to claim a 4-2 aggregate victory over rivals Atletico Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane’s side used a first-half goal from Isco to pull away from their city rivals at the Vicente Calderon. However, after the first 15+ minutes it looked like the hosts would get back into the tie.

Saul Niguez’s close range header made it 1-0 on the day after the midfielder finished from a corner kick. Four minutes later, Atletico pulled to within one on aggregate after Antoine Griezmann converted from the penalty spot.

It was the Frenchman’s sixth goal in the competition, and his 26th across all competitions.

However, the visitors extended their aggregate lead just before halftime as Isco tapped home from close range. The midfielder slammed home a rebound after Toni Kroos’s previous effort was palmed away by Jan Oblak. Huge credit goes to Karim Benzema, who danced down the sideline past two Atletico defenders to set up Kroos on the aforementioned effort.

Atletico had several efforts in the second-half to pull closer, as Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro, and Yannick Carrasco saw shots saved by Keylor Navas. Despite having seven efforts on goal, Atletico couldn’t come back as Real Madrid advanced to their second final in a row.

Navas made five saves for Los Blancos, while Oblak made five in the defeat. After falling in the final in two of the past three seasons, Diego Simeone’s side now return to La Liga play this weekend. Atletico Madrid sits in third place on 74 points, and hold a five point lead over fourth place Sevilla.

Real Madrid booked their place to a UEFA Champions League final date with Italian leaders Juventus in Cardiff, Wales.  The final will take place on June 3 with Los Blancos searching for their 12th UCL title. Juventus is searching for their third Champions League crown, and their first since 1996.

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