Koke scored 22 seconds in, and Antoine Griezmann added another as Atletico Madrid took a step toward the Europa League semifinals.

By 90Min
April 05, 2018

Atletico Madrid capitalized on two defensive errors to beat Portuguese side Sporting CP on Thursday night, as Koke and Antoine Griezmann scored in a comfortable 2-0 win.

A defensive howler from Sebastian Coates saw Atletico surge into the lead just 22 seconds in, Diego Costa intercepting the former Liverpool man's sloppy pass to feed Koke, who finished finely for the game's first goal.

Atletico are the favorites for this season's Europa League, alongside Premier league outfit Arsenal and Italian side Lazio, and looked the part during a solid opening.

The home side doubled their advantage on the night and in the tie shortly before half-time, courtesy of another error from Sporting.

Jeremy Mathieu, formerly of Atletico's La Liga rivals Barcelona, allowed Diego Costa's pass to slip between his legs as it ran through to Griezmann, who scampered in on goal before finishing low beyond the hapless Rui Patricio.

There was little hope for Sporting after the second goal with Atletico notoriously strong in defense, having only conceded 14 goals in 30 La Liga games so far this season.

Diego Simeone's intention to win the tournament was clear to see when Atletico announced their team, with regulars Diego Godin, Griezmann, Koke and Costa all featuring from the outset.

The Spanish club's hopes for domestic glory look slim, with Barcelona running away with La Liga and currently nine points clear with eight games to go, but their performance on Thursday showed why they are still revered as a European power.

Fredy Montero should have scored a tap in late on for Sporting after Jan Oblak parried a shot but embarrassingly skied over when it seemed easier to score.

Elsewhere on Thursday night, Arsenal took a firm grip on their tie with CSKA Moscow, producing a brilliant first half display to blow their Russian opponents away and running out 4-1 winners.

RB Leipzig triumphed over Marseille 1-0, with Liverpool target and Germany forward Timo Werner scoring, while Lazio gave two away goals to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, ultimately winning 4-2.

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