Atletico Madrid on course for semi-finals after beating Sporting Lisbon
Koke gave Atletico Madrid the perfect start with goal after 23 seconds.
Koke scored after 23 seconds to set Atletico Madrid on their way to a routine 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.
Atletico had won their previous eight games at Wanda Metropolitano and they had a ninth straight home victory wrapped up by half-time after Antoine Griezmann doubled their lead.
Sporting will aim to overturn the deficit without suspended pair Fabio Coentrao and Bas Dost after they were booked in a frustrating second half for the visitors.
In a tie between two sides that dropped down from the Champions League, Atletico underlined why they are the favourites to win the Europa League for a third time.
Diego Simeone’s team – second in LaLiga ahead of Sunday’s crucial clash with rivals Real at the Bernabeu – were given a helping hand by Sporting’s generous defence.
The game had only just kicked off when Sebastian Coates was short with a pass to centre-back partner Jeremy Mathieu and Diego Costa nipped in to give Koke the chance to beat Rui Patricio with a left-footed finish.
Sporting appeared in danger of falling apart as Diego Godin had a header saved two minutes later but the Portuguese outfit worked their way into the contest and spurned two good chances.
First Dost headed wide after good work down the right by Cristiano Piccini before Gelson Martins was denied by Jan Oblak on a one-on-one after being played through by Bruno Fernandes.
Sporting’s good work was undone on 39 minutes when Mathieu miscontrolled a harmless ball forward and Griezmann raced cleared to finish into the bottom corner.
Costa wasted two chances early in the second half after capitalising on errors by Coates and Coentrao’s frustration was clear when he went through the back of Griezmann and picked up a yellow card that rules him out of the return leg.
Sporting will also be without Dutch striker Dost next week after he too was cautioned by referee Sergei Karasev.
Fredy Montero missed a golden opportunity to take an away goal back to Portugal when he blazed a rebound over the bar from close range in stoppage time.