Atletico Madrid 2 Sporting CP 0: Koke, Griezmann make defensive errors pay
Koke scored Atletico Madrid's quickest ever Europa League goal after just 22 seconds in an accomplished 2-0 quarter-final first-leg win over a sloppy Sporting CP at Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday.
The Spain midfielder punished Sebastian Coates' error to net the opener immediately after kick-off, setting the home side on their way to a sixth successive victory in this year's competition.
In truth, it was made it easy for the Rojiblancos, Jeremy Mathieu gifting Atleti a second, Antoine Griezmann's fourth goal in as many club outings arriving late in the first half.
The Portuguese outfit created occasional opportunities to snatch a handy away goal – substitute Fredy Montero notably blazing over at the death - but while both teams finished third in their respective Champions League groups, there was a clear gulf in quality.
Indeed, the last time these teams met in the Europa League, it was the Rojiblancos who went on to lift the trophy in the competition's inaugural 2009-10 season.
And Diego Simeone, who led Atleti to a second triumph three years later, will be confident of booking a place in the final four when they reconvene for the return leg in Lisbon next Thursday.
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Jorge Jesus spoke pre-match of being underdogs against the two-time tournament winners, but the Sporting boss will still have expected better than to cough up a cheap first-minute goal.
Ex-Liverpool defender Coates was the culprit as his panicked sideways pass was picked off Diego Costa, who squeezed a pass through for Koke to slide into the bottom corner.
Rui Patricio prevented a stunned Sporting from falling further behind moments later as he palmed clear Diego Godin's firm header from Koke's corner.
The visitors steadied after those haphazard early exchanges and could well have been level just beyond the half-hour mark. Gelson Martins scampered onto an incisive Bruno Fernandes pass from deep but, slightly unbalanced by Godin's faint tug, he telegraphed a finish that Jan Oblak saved low to his left.
He was made to pay for that miss five minutes before the break, as Griezmann this time pounced on Mathieu's loose touch, hared into the area and fired clinically to Patricio's left.
Was there any ever doubt?
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Though half-time was fast approaching, Jesus was not prepared to wait for the interval in replacing midfielder William Carvalho with the more attack-minded Marcos Acuna.
He may have considered dragging Coates when the defender's nightmare continued with a missed clearance at the start of the second half, although his embarrassment was to be shared by Costa as the striker failed to round Patricio in a one-on-one.
Sporting's frustration began to show over the final half-hour with Cristiano Piccini, Bas Dost and Fabio Coentrao all shown yellow cards for rash challenges, the latter's ruling him out of the second leg.
Patricio did well to deny Juanfran from a narrow angle with one final Atleti chance late in the contest, before Montero wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to grab anway goal after Oblak failed to hold Bryan Ruiz's initial effort.
But neither incident will mean much in the context of the tie if Jesus does not solve his side's defensive problems in next week's reverse fixture.