Atletico Madrid edged through to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey with a 4-3 aggregate victory after two late goals gave Las Palmas a 3-2 second-leg win in the round of 16 on Tuesday.
Second-half strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa looked set to extend Atletico’s superb form despite Marko Livaja’s leveller for Las Palmas, but Diego Simeone’s men allowed their concentration to slip in the final minutes at Estadio Vincente Calderon.
Livaja made it 2-2 with a simple finish in the 89th minute and Mateo Garcia scored in injury time to give Quique Setien’s side their first away win since August, but it was too late for the visitors after a game in which a below-par Atleti did just enough to win the tie.
The hosts were in cruise control as the game seemed to be petering out, before Las Palmas’ late strikes, and Simeone will hope for a better performance from his side on Saturday when Real Betis visit in La Liga.
For Setien, an exit from the Copa del Rey will see the focus fall solely on Las Palmas’ quest to finish in the top six of La Liga for the first time since 1979.
Correa partnered Griezmann in the Atletico attack and the Argentine striker had the first chance to open the scoring when Diego Godin put him through on goal but his touch carried the ball beyond the onrushing Raul Lizoain and out of play.
Las Palmas midfielder Hernan limped out of the game after just 18 minutes and, with the visitors temporarily down to 10 men, Saul Niguez took advantage of the extra space in midfield to test Lizoain with a low drive from 20 yards.
The goalkeeper’s quick reactions were required again to stop a Griezmann shot moments later when the Frenchman swept into the box with some neat footwork, and the Atletico star then blazed a second chance over the crossbar.
The Islanders almost punished Atleti for their wastefulness when Momo’s cross was turned goalwards at the near post by Livaja’s diving header but Miguel Angel Moya made a reflex save to preserve the home side’s 2-0 aggregate lead, before Tana arrowed a shot narrowly over the crossbar at the end of another good Las Palmas move.
A superb one-handed save by Lizoain prevented Correa from extending Atletico’s lead in the tie after a powerful run and shot by the Argentine early in the second half.
Moments later, Las Palmas were finally undone when an intricate passing move down the Atletico left ended with Nicolas Gaitan pulling the ball back for Griezmann to calmly side-foot it into the corner of the net.
With a three-goal lead in the tie, Atletico seemed to sit back and Godin allowed Livaja to drift past him before the striker cut inside Jose Gimenez and fired a shot that beat Moya, finding the far corner of the net with a brilliant finish.
Las Palmas were level for just three minutes before Correa connected with Sime Vrsaljko’s long pass before beating David Garcia and firing between the legs of Lizoain to score.
Simeone, with one eye clearly on the return to La Liga action at the weekend, took Griezmann off and gave Fernando Torres a run out for the final half hour of the game, and Las Palmas’ refusal to give up was rewarded when Mateo Garcia’s cross was turned into an empty net by Livaja.
Three minutes later, Las Palmas substitute Jonathan Viera crossed to the far post for Garcia to head home the winner, but it was not quite enough to keep the Islanders in the competition.
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