Nick Cushing’s side fell to a 3-2 aggregate defeat to the Spanish Champions, drawing 1-1 in Manchester before suffering a 2-1 reverse at the Centro Deportivo Wanda, courtesy of a Steph Houghton own-goal and a second half Angela Sosa strike.
Pauline Bremer netted a consolation late on but it would prove too little, too late, as the 2017 and 2018 semi-finalists were eliminated at the Round of 16 stage.
City started brightly, easing the nerves by gaining control of possession early on, passing the ball around. Making her full debut, Ellen White carved out the game’s first chance on ten minutes, beating the offside trap to latch onto Georgia Stanway’s through-ball before firing just wide of the far post.
As was the case in the home leg, Lauren Hemp’s blistering pace proved a real threat down the left flank, as the youngster alternated between skipping to the by-line to deliver dangerous crosses and cutting inside to shoot.
Heeding the warning, Atletico stepped up their game with a spell of pressure of their own, as former City star Toni Duggan, forward Ludmila Da Silva and Charlyn Corral – scorer of the late equaliser in Manchester – weaved their way into dangerous areas without testing Ellie Roebuck.
A misplaced pass almost proved costly, as Atletico were handed a corner. The floated delivery reached Ludmila at the backpost and her header was cleared off the line. A real let-off.
The opening goal arrived courtesy of a frustrating slice of misfortune, as Ludmila poked a looping cross back across goal, which hit captain Houghton and bounced over the line to hand the home side the lead at the break.
Needing to net the all-important away goal, City came flying out of the blocks in the second half and almost levelled the score within minutes with a superb team move, which saw Demi Stokes and Stanway play a neat-one two before the ball was stood up to the far post and agonisingly headed over the bar by Jill Scott.
As City pressed, opportunities for Atletico opened up on the counter-attack and Roebuck had to be alert to deny Corral before the hour mark, diving low to her nearpost, while White was thwarted by Sari van Veenendaal at the other end.
Carmen Menayo then drilled wide with a powerful drive, before the killer blow was delivered with just over 20 minutes remaining, as Sosa converted from close range after Roebuck had done well to deny Corral once more.
Desperate to find a route back into the game, City adopted a more attacking formation and substitute Janine Beckie was unfortunate to strike the crossbar with a header.
With time running out, the tie looked dead and buried but Bremer pounced with two minutes of normal time left, after a trademark Megan Campbell throw-in had caused havoc in the box, to give the away side hope.
Unfortunately, the fightback would come too late and City were condemned to defeat.
How we lined up
Goalkeeper Roebuck took her place in goal, shielded by a backline of Stokes, Campbell, Houghton and Gemma Bonner.
Keira Walsh, who is currently serving a domestic suspension, was restored to the starting XI to protect the back four, sitting in behind Weir and Scott.
Full debutant White led the line upfront, flanked by Hemp and Stanway.
City return to domestic action with the visit of group leaders Birmingham City in the Continental Cup on Sunday 3 November (2pm), before the calendar breaks for international duty.
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