Atletico Madrid top Sporting 2-0 in Europa League quarters

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Madrid, April 6 (IANS) Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-0 in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie here.

Atleti, among the favourites to win the competition, were more dominant than the score would indicate and only some outstanding moments from Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio kept the game from turning into a rout on Thursday, reports Efe.

The Colchoneros needed just 22 seconds to get on the board in front the more than 53,000 people in the stands at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano.

Losing possession seconds after the kick-off, Atleti pressed forward and got their reward in the form of a gift from Sporting defender Sebastian Coates, whose poor pass in the direction of teammate Jeremy Mathieu was intercepted by Diego Costa.

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The big forward got the ball to an unmarked Koke Resurreccion racing toward the goal and the midfielder beat Patricio to make it 1-0.

The Sporting keeper stopped Diego Godin’s powerful header two minutes later, giving the Portuguese side a chance to regroup and focus on getting the equaliser.

Bas Dost and Gelson Martins threatened the Atletico goal before the hosts returned to the high press, forcing yet another defensive blunder.

This time, it was Mathieu’s failure to cut off a pass from Saul Ñiguez that left the ball to Antoine Griezmann, who outran three Sporting players to score in the 40th minute.

The French international has 16 goals in his last 15 matches for Atletico in all competitions.

More mistakes by Coates early in the second half created a pair of chances for Costa, but Patricio proved himself equal to the challenge on both occasions.

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Atletico were in full control for the balance of the match, though their hopes for an additional goal or two to give them an even bigger edge heading into the second leg went unfulfilled.

–IANS

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