There was no letdown this time. Atletico Madrid are back in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
A year after a disappointing elimination in the group stage of the tournament, Atletico secured their spot in the next round by defeating Monaco 2-0 on Wednesday.
An early own goal from Benoit Badiashile and Antoine Griezmann’s first-half finish were enough for Atletico, which had made it to the knockout phase for four straight years before last season’s setback.
Monaco had arrived with no chance of qualifying and they missed a late penalty as former Atletico forward Radamel Falcao shot wide.
Atletico have been one of the most successful clubs in Europe in recent years, making it to the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, and winning the Europa League last season.
They didn’t waste time making sure there was no surprise elimination this time, taking the lead two minutes into the match at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The opener, which came courtesy of a deflection that fooled Monaco goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, was Atletico’s fastest Champions League goal.
Griezmann added to the lead in the 24th with a shot from inside the area after nice build-up play by Angel Correa on the left side.
Atletico were in control but Monaco had a chance to get back into the match when they were awarded an 82nd-minute penalty after Youri Tielemans’ shot caught the hand of Stefan Savic inside the area, which also led to the defender being shown a second yellow card.
But Falcao, who had entered the match early in the second half, sent his low shot from the spot wide as Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak dived the other way.