Atletico Madrid edge closer to knockout stages


Atletico Madrid moved ever closer towards a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-0 win at Group A rivals Malmo on Tuesday night. Diego Simeone's men were unable to repeat the performance which saw them hammer the Swedes 5-0 last time out, but goals from Koke and Raul Garcia were enough to earn the Primera Division side their third successive win which moves them clear at the top of the group. It was a heart-wrenching result for the home side, though, who had battled bravely at Malmo New Stadium but lacked the fortune needed to see off last season's beaten finalists. Malmo showed determination from the whistle and Markus Halsti tried his luck after 13 minutes with a drilled effort from 25 yards which was gathered by visiting goalkeeper Miguel Moya. Markus Rosenberg also produced a shot from distance after 20 minutes, firing wide of the right post, but Atletico then began to motor and Malmo goalkeeper Robin Olsen had to make a timely intervention to keep out Garcia's close-range strike. Garcia threatened again soon after although could only direct his left-footed shot over the bar, but it was no surprise when the deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark. Juanfran was the architect of what was a well-worked goal for the Spanish champions, racing into the area before providing a lovely pass for Koke to turn the ball in from a few yards out. The goal was a hammer blow for the home fans but they would have been encouraged by the response and Isaac Kiese Thelin came frustratingly close to equalising when he met a cross from Anton Tinnerholm only to put his header beyond the left post. Rosenberg also fired over the bar while Emil Forsberg drew a save from Moya as the home side finished the half strongly. Malmo pressed again after the interval but luck was not on their side on 51 minutes when Forsberg slammed his shot from 18 yards on to a post after Rosenberg's blocked free-kick had fallen kindly for the Sweden midfielder. It was a huge let-off for Diego Simeone's men but they remained on the back foot and Tinnerholm gave them another scare after 73 minutes with an 18-yard strike which just dipped over the net. However, Malmo shot themselves in the foot five minutes later when some slack defending gifted their opponents a second goal. Juanfran again found space down the right before whipping in a cross which was poorly cleared, allowing Garcia to plant the ball into the bottom left corner.