Fernando Torres hit a second-half brace as Atletico Madrid showed no mercy and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a dominant 5-1 win at Lokomotiv Moscow.
Diego Simeone’s men took a 3-0 first-leg advantage to the Russian capital and, although star man Antoine Griezmann started on the bench and Diego Costa did not travel, there was no let-up from the LaLiga high-flyers.
Angel Correa made and finished a fine early opener and Atletico’s extra class emphatically showed during the second period after Maciej Rybus’ spectacular equaliser had given the hosts some cheer.
Spain midfielder Saul Niguez ensured he claimed goals in each leg and a Lokomotiv side running out of steam did not need to see Griezmann primed on the touchline with half an hour remaining.
He won a penalty for Torres to net in the 65th minute, the former Chelsea forward doubling his tally soon after, and an exquisite chip five minutes from time rounded off the scoring in a game where Simeone’s well-honed side were at their ruthless best.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) March 15, 2018
Atletico tightened their grip as early as the 11th minute when Correa exchanged passes with Koke and skipped past Mikhail Lysov – leaving the defender prone on the turf – before sliding a low finish into the far corner.
Lokomotiv were not cowed by their dismal chances of progressing and Jefferson Farfan and captain Igor Denisov forced Atletico’s understudy keeper Axel Werner into saves from long-range strikes before pulling level.
The corner following Denisov’s effort was played short and worked to Rybus 30 yards from goal, the Poland full-back unleashing a venomous 20th-minute shot that shaped away from a partially unsighted Werner and flew into the net.
A shoot-on-sight policy remained at both ends, with Manuel Fernandes sending an attempt just beyond Werner’s crossbar before Anton Kochenkov tipped Juanfran’s 36th-minute drive onto the top of his crossbar and parried to safety from Thomas Partey.
Some horribly lax defending from Lokomotiv allowed their visitors to retake the lead on the night two minutes into the second half.
Saul was allowed to drift into the area unmarked and side-foot home a return ball from Filipe Luis with the minimum of fuss.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 15, 2018
Partey tried his luck once more in the 58th minute – his sweetly struck 25-yarder matched by Kochenkov’s acrobatic one-handed save.
Filipe Luis left the pitch on a stretcher and in considerable pain in the 62nd minute, having received a hefty kick on the calf from Lokomotiv substitute Eder, who expected to make contact with the ball and not a brave piece of last-ditch defending.
Lucas Hernandez came on in the Brazilian’s place moments after Griezmann’s introduction and the France star soon made his presence felt.
A drop of the shoulder allowed him to glide away from Vedran Corluka and Kochenkov rushed out to bring Griezmann down.
Torres converted the penalty and slotted home his second 20 minutes from time, profiting from Correa’s deft footwork and excellent throughball.
Atletico left the best until last – Correa pirouetting past his man and passing for Griezmann to apply the coup de grace. They will take some stopping in this competition.
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