MADRID (AFP) – Atletico Madrid moved a step closer to qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League with a comfortable 5-0 win over Malmo at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.
It took last year’s finalists until after half-time to make the breakthrough, but once Koke had finished off a fine team move to open the scoring there was little doubt Diego Simeone’s men were headed for victory.
Two goals in two minutes from Mario Mandzukic – his 19th in 23 Champions League appearances – and Antoine Griezmann just after the hour mark made the game safe before late goals from Diego Godin and Alessio Cerci rounded off the scoring.
“We kept going. In the first-half you could see the team was close to the goal, we had some great chances,” said Simeone.
“In the second-half the only difference was the finishing in the final third.” A second consecutive win for Atletico moves them to the top of Group A alongside Olympiakos on six points after the Greeks beat Juventus 1-0.
Juventus and Malmo are three points further back, but Simeone is still wary of the threat posed by the Italian champions.
“It is complicated and we need to be attentive until the final game.
“Juventus still have two home games to come, so we need to be very careful. Nothing is decided yet.”
Malmo boss Age Hareide, meanwhile, admitted his side had simply been outclassed in the second-half.
“We played well in the first-half, but we lost our way in the second.
“We lacked the same energy in the second-half. We need to analyse the game and learn from it for the return game at home.”
Malmo are making their first appearance in the Champions League group stages, but they withstood an early Atletico onslaught of corners well, whilst Miguel Angel Moya had to turn behind Ricardinho’s free-kick at the other end.
The Spanish champions increased the pressure as the half went on and were somehow denied 10 minutes before the break as Griezmann smashed a shot off the underside of the bar and Erik Johansson cleared Mandzukic’s follow-up effort off the line.
Arda Turan then flashed a shot just wide as Malmo clung on to go in level at the break.