Hapoel Tel Aviv 0-3 Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone's men begin defence of title with an easy victory over Israeli side
The Spanish outfit will be hard pressed to find an easier game this season, in which they dominated from the start and netted three goals
By Martin Macdonald
Atletico Madrid had the best possible start to the defence of their Europa League crown after comfortably disposing of Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 at the Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday evening.
The visitors quickly established themselves as the dominant team in the match, with Raul Garcia, Belozoglu Emre and Mario Suarez controlling things with ease in the centre of the midfield.
The high percentage of possession being held nearly paid off for Atletico just before the half-hour mark when Adrian Lopez latched on to a neat lay-off inside the box from Diego Costa, only to drag his shot wide of the left-hand post.
However, it took just under ten minutes later for the deadlock to be broken, and it was done in style. Diego Costa was on hand again to set up a team-mate, and this time he passed back into the path of Cristian Rodriguez, who unleashed a left-footed piledriver into the top right corner, with Hapoel Tel Aviv goalkeeper Apoula Edel having no chance.
Having just provided Rodriguez with an assist for the opening goal of the match, Costa then got himself on the score sheet three just three minutes later. Gil Vermot was guilty of languishing in possession in the centre circle which allowed Raul Garcia to rob the ball for Lopez who sent an exquisite through pass through to the Brazilian, who took the ball past Bete with ease before slotting home.
Diego Simeone’s men never really looked in danger against the attack of the Israeli side, and took advantage of their dominance again 20 minutes into the second period when they scored the third goal of the match. Garcia, having spent the majority of the game pulling the strings from deeper areas, drifted into the box and latched on to a loose ball to lash a shot down the middle that proved too powerful for Bete.
Atletico made a trio of changes after putting the game to bed with the third goal, and substitute, Koke, came very close to adding a fourth ten minutes from time when he picked up the ball on the edge of the box and attempted to drive a shot into the corner, only to see it go a whisker past the post.
This would be as close as the visitors came to finding another goal as they slipped into neutral for the remainder of the game, which they knew was won long ago.
Atletico have started the defence of their Europa League crown with a victory and now find themselves placed top of Group B. Viktoria Plzen defeated Academica 3-1 in the other match in the group, which sees Hapoel bottom after the opening game.
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