FERNANDO TORRES struck twice to reaffirm his place in Atletico Madrid hearts and send arch-rivals Real Madrid crashing out of the Copa del Rey last night.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker scored his first two goals since rejoining his boyhood club as Atleti claimed a 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu to reach the last eight of the competition with a 4-2 aggregate score. Torres found the net in the first minute of each half to end any hopes of a fightback from the reigning world and European club champions.
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Real replied to each goal with equalisers from Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo but it was not enough for La Liga’s leaders.
Torres immediately punctured what had been a vibrant atmosphere, fuelled by Ronaldo’s parading of the Ballon d’Or trophy before kick-off, by sweeping home Antoine Griezmann’s cross with less than a minute gone.
Real responded well, with Ronaldo denied at close range before Ramos planted a firm header past Jan Oblak.
Ronaldo had another effort blocked and headed wide from a Gareth Bale cross as Atleti were extended at the back. Real might have looked to step up further after the break but again they were stung within a minute of kick-off as Ramos gifted possession to Griezmann and quickly fed Torres. The striker wrongfooted Pepe and finished coolly, albeit with a helpful deflection off goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Again Real responded with Ronaldo turning in a Bale cross eight minutes later but the task was beyond Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who have not beaten Atleti in five attempts since last season’s Champions League final.
Atletico will play Barcelona or Elche, who met later last night with Barca 5-0 up from the first leg, in the quarter-finals.