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When Atletico Madrid were knocked out in the Champions League quarterfinals by Ajax Amsterdam in 1997, midfielder Diego Simeone could scarcely have imagined it would be 17 years before they reached the last eight again. Almost two decades later, Simeone is now coaching the La Liga side and Tuesday's dominant 4-1 home victory against seven-time winners AC Milan, which put Atletico through to the quarterfinals 5-1 on aggregate, was the latest evidence he has molded his unfancied squad into genuine European contenders.As the game wore on, Atletico began to exert an impressive control over the Italian side on a near-perfect night for the club's long-suffering fans and they are now just four games away from May's final in Lisbon. They are also still in with a chance of winning La Liga for the first time since 1996, again with Simeone in the side, and lurk three points behind leaders Real Madrid in second with 11 games left.
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