Antoine Griezmann was in inspirational form as Atletico Madrid took firm control of their last-32 Europa League tie against Copenhagen with a 4-1 first-leg away win on Thursday.
Griezmann was involved in three of the four goals as Atleti came from behind to lead before the half-time interval at a snowy Parken Stadium, where Diego Simeone’s side twice added to the scoreline after the break to improve an already solid position ahead of next week’s return game in Madrid.
Atletico had kept three consecutive clean sheets but they fell behind in the 15th minute, Viktor Fischer flicking in Peter Ankersen’s effort to beat Miguel Angel Moya.
Copenhagen’s lead lasted just five minutes, though, Griezmann providing a fine cross from the right wing for Saul Niguez to glance home the leveller for the 2010 and 2012 winners.
Kevin Gameiro gave Atleti the lead before the interval, finishing from close-range after Lucas Hernandez and Griezmann combined beautifully in the left channel, with the latter member of that French trio adding Atleti’s third after being played through by Yannick Carrasco.
Atletico, who entered the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Roma and Chelsea, had won 2-0 on their previous visit to Copenhagen in 2007 and they saw out another comfortable victory against the overwhelmed Danish champions, with substitute Vitolo adding a late fourth.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 15, 2018
Goalkeeper Robin Olsen blocked Griezmann’s shot in the second minute and Saul fired over the crossbar in a positive start for a strong Atletico side.
Griezmann then dinked a first-time effort wide after Th
omas Partey’s pressure forced a defensive error, Olsen denying the France striker again when he ran through on goal.
And all those early misses proved temporarily costly as the hosts took a shock lead in the 15th minute.
A left-wing cross from Nicolai Boilesen was missed by a series of Atleti defenders and when Ankersen fired the ball goalwards, Fischer reacted first to flick it in from close range.
Atletico were not behind for long, though, with Saul getting enough on a cute header to beat Olsen after Griezmann was given far too much space on the right following a short corner.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 15, 2018
Griezmann was heavily involved again as Atleti took the lead after 36 minutes, providing a lovely flicked pass through the legs of Jan Gregus to complete a one-two with Lucas, who crossed low for Gameiro to slot home.
Gameiro sent a sighter narrowly over the crossbar following the resumption as Atletico, who were winless in five European away matches, sought to wrap the game up.
Substitute Carrasco narrowly missed the target with a pair of efforts shortly after his introduction, but Griezmann struck with 20 minutes to go to ensure Atletico have a foot in the last-16.
A fine reverse pass from Carrasco sent Griezmann scampering through on goal and, while Olsen came off his line to narrow the angle, Griezmann tucked away the finish to virtually guarantee his side’s progression.
Copenhagen had defended badly throughout and when Ankersen gave up possession on the edge of his own box, Vitolo’s 77th-minute strike squirmed away from Olsen to wrap up victory for Atleti.
Andrija Pavlovic headed against the post in the closing stages, but Copenhagen have it all to do when they visit the Spanish capital in a week’s time.
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