Atletico Madrid cruised into the last 16 of the Europa League by beating Copenhagen 1-0 at home on Thursday, securing a 5-1 aggregate victory over the Danish champions.
With Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa absent, Kevin Gameiro seized his chance to shine, giving Atletico an early lead with a fantastic left-footed drive to net for the third game in a row.
Gameiro scored from the bench in a LaLiga win over Athletic Bilbao last time out and, once he had put Atletico in front, the result of the tie was never going to be in doubt.
Yannick Carrasco was omitted from the Atletico squad amid reports the Belgium winger is set to join Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, but with a large gulf in class between the sides Diego Simeone’s men were never seriously tested.
A fifth straight win in all competitions was duly secured by Atletico, who have conceded only one goal during that run – Viktor Fischer’s opener in the first leg.
Atletico will now await Friday’s last-16 draw, with the LaLiga side seeking to add to their 2010 and 2012 titles in this competition.
21 – Kevin Gameiros has scored 21 goals in #UEL / UEFA Cup, the most for a French player in the competition history: Sevilla (17), Strasbourg (2) & Atlético de Madrid (2). Comfortable pic.twitter.com/2Qtya3kjmL
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 22, 2018
Gameiro was on target in the first leg and he gave Atletico a seventh-minute lead.
After being fed by Angel Correa, the French forward worked the ball out of his feet and thundered a 20-yard drive to the right of goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
With Copenhagen winless in nine away games in all competitions, any hopes of a fightback already appeared forlorn, but Pieros Sotiriou should have hit the target from 20 yards after super build-up play.
Fernando Torres, making his first Europa League appearance for Atletico, missed with a header shortly before half-time as the hosts showed little attacking appetite.
Sotiriou hit a decent chance straight at Jan Oblak after outmuscling Diego Godin from a long ball, but both sides were going through the motions.
Godin headed a Gabi free-kick over the crossbar after 57 minutes, then Andrija Pavlovic rifled wide after creating space for himself with a neat turn.
Gameiro should have helped himself to a second when poor defending allowed the attacker to get through on goal, but the finish was too close to Andersen, who made a simple block.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 22, 2018
Substitutes Saul and Nicolas Gaitan both flashed long-range efforts wide, but Atletico did not seem overly motivated to push for more.
With a big league game against Sevilla coming against Sunday, Simeone took the chance to rest Gameiro, Correa and Koke, but there will be sterner tests to come in the Europa League.
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