Atletico’s Koke, Garcia sink Malmo

Reuters, MALMO, Sweden

Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 18

Atletico Madrid’s Koke and Raul Garcia secured a 2-0 victory at Malmo FF for the Group A leaders in their UEFA Champions League clash on Tuesday after the Swedish side spurned several excellent chances.

Having soaked up considerable pressure, Koke broke the deadlock for last season’s runners-up on the half-hour mark, sweeping Juanfran’s low cross from the right into the net with the inside of his heel after a swift counterattack.

Garcia killed the game in the 78th minute, firing home Filip Helander’s botched clearance.

“Obviously, it’s important to play nice football, but what makes me proud is when we win,” Garcia told reporters. “That is what I want to give the fans, the team, the supporters — victories.”

Atletico lead the standings, while Malmo’s defeat leaves them bottom with three points.

Having demolished the Swedish side 5-0 at the Vicente Calderon, Diego Simeone’s Atletico side added their first away win in this season’s competition by hitting Malmo on the counterattack.

The Swedish champions did create plenty of openings as they poured forward in search of an equalizer, though, with Isaac Kiese Thelin, Emil Forsberg and Anton Tinnerholm all going close.

Malmo coach Age Hareide thought they should have had a penalty when Markus Rosenberg’s second-half free-kick appeared to strike an arm in the defensive wall, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved away appeals as the captain fired the rebound onto the post.

“What they did to us they do to most teams, but that is no comfort to us,” Hareide told a press conference.

The second half exploded into life with a flurry of yellow cards for Atletico, with Miranda, Diego Godin and Juanfran all booked in a three-minute spell, leading to nervousness on the Atletico bench before Raul Garcia struck the second goal.

“For 20 or 25 minutes at the start of the second half Malmo pressed well,” Simeone said. “They didn’t create any really clear chances apart form the one off the post, but when our 2-0 goal came it was a relief and we could relax.”

Simeone praised the Swedish side and said that they still had a chance to go through.

“Anything can happen. No team has lost the chance to win or to go through. You have to be very attentive and take the next match as if it was a final,” he said.