MADRID (AFP) - Atletico Madrid progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals for the second consecutive season after squeezing past Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 on penalties after the scores were locked at 1-1 on aggregate.
The Spanish champions won 1-0 on the night at the Vicente Calderon thanks to Mario Suarez's deflected first-half strike in 120 minutes short on clear-cut chances.
And after a topsy turvy shootout including five missed penalties, Stefan Kiessling blazed Leverkusen's final effort over the bar to hand Atletico a place in the last eight.
"Our best characteristic is that we are a team in every sense of the word," said Suarez. "We don't care who we get in the next round. The best teams will be there and no one will want to face us."
Leverkusen midfielder Simone Rolfes, meanwhile, believed his side should have committed more in search of an away goal.
"After a penalty shoot-out it is difficult to analyse a game. We may not have shown enough courage, but a little luck is also necessary," he said.
"It is bitter to exit on penalties. Atletico were the more active team and we were not confident enough."
Atletico boss Diego Simeone sprung a huge surprise prior to kick-off by handing on-loan Villarreal midfielder Cani his full debut at the expense of captain Gabi.
Mario Mandzukic was also recalled up front at the expense of Fernando Torres, but it was at the other end where the Croatian proved his worth early on as he cleared a shot from Son Heung-Min off his own line after Atletico struggled to clear a Leverkusen corner.
The Korean had an even better chance moments later as the Germans counter-attacked with menace, but a poor touch allowed Miguel Angel Moya to scurry from his goal and collect the loose ball. That was to be Moya's last involvement as he limped off with an injury to be replaced by Jan Oblak.
However, fortune favoured the home side 27 minutes in when Suarez's shot from Cani's cushioned header was deflected past the helpless Bernd Leno.
Suarez was also on target in the shootout as he, Griezmann and Torres scored for Atletico, whilst Garcia fired over and Koke's effort was brilliantly saved by Leno. However, only Rolfes and Gonzalo Castro could find the net for Leverkusen as Oblak denied Hakan Calhanoglu and Omer Toprak and Kiessling could not even hit the target.