Madrid, Thursday @PeopleSports11
Atletico Madrid’s pursuit of a third UEFA Europa League crown gathered pace as they posted a fifth successive victory in this season’s competition to defeat Sporting CP 2-0 in the Spanish capital.
The Lisbon club face a tough task to overturn the deficit given their recent difficulties against opposition from Spain.
Third in their UEFA Champions League group, Sporting beat Astana 6-4 on aggregate in the round of 32 before edging past Viktoria Plzeň in extra time of their round of 16 tie, Rodrigo Battaglia’s header giving the Lisbon club a 3-2 victory over the two legs.
Having also crossed over to the UEFA Europa League after finishing third in their UEFA Champions League group, Atletico made light work of both Danish champions FC Kobenhavn in the round of 32 and Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moskva in the round of 16, winning all four matches and racking up 13 goals.
A Koke goal after just 22 seconds got Atletico out of the blocks quickly in Madrid, and although Sporting created chances to equalise, it was the home side who also scored the second when Antoine Griezmann raced through to double the lead on 40 minutes.
No further goals followed, enabling Atletico to keep their fourth successive European clean sheet at the Estadio Metropolitano.
Atletico and Sporting first met in the round of 16 of the inaugural 2009/10 UEFA Europa League, with the Spanish club, coached by Quique Sanchez Flores, going through on away goals after a 0-0 draw in Madrid was followed by a 2-2 draw against Carlos Carvalhal’s side in Lisbon.
Sergio Aguero scored twice past Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio to help Atletico qualify for the quarter-finals of a competition they went on to win. Defeated in their last six matches against Spanish clubs, Sporting boast just two wins in eight two-legged knockout ties against Liga opposition.
The Portuguese outfit do boast a positive record at home to Spanish visitors (W6 D2 L4), but have won only one of the last six such encounters in Lisbon, losing three including 0-1 against Barcelona in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. -AFP