Atletico Madrid sink Salzburg to reach last 16

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Atletico Madrid sink Salzburg to reach last 16

An opportunist goal by defender Mario Hermoso and a sweet Yannick Carrasco strike gave Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win at FC Salzburg in their Champions League Group A match on Wednesday and sent them into the knockout stages. The result left Atletico second in the group on nine points from six games, seven behind group winners Bayern Munich who sealed their progress earlier and were 2-0 home winners over Lokomotiv Moscow. Third-placed Salzburg finished on four points and will carry on in the Europa League last 32 after the winter break while bottom team Lokomotiv (three points) have been eliminated. Atletico put in a typical hard-working display and took a 39th-minute lead as Carrasco floated in a free kick and the ball came off Hermoso’s shoulder en route to the far corner past Salzburg’s stranded goalkeeper Cican Stankovic. With Salzburg wasting a string of chances either side of Hermoso’s effort, Carrasco sealed Atletico’s last-16 berth with a superb first-time volley from inside the penalty area after an inch-perfect cross by Angel Correa in the 86th minute. Atletico manager Diego Simeone praised his team and Carrasco in particular. “We never thought it would be simple because Salzburg are a team who play with high intensity,” he said. “Carrasco was fantastic in the second half and he must carry on like this because at this level he is a different player and a very important one for the team.” Luis Suarez appeared visibily frustrated after being substituted off in the 60th minute, but Simeone said it was normal to see a player of his stature come off earlier. “It’s logical, I’d be annoyed too, because there are games where we all want to play 90 minutes. When important players have to go off, it’s normal that they’re annoyed, it’s understandable,” added Simeone.