Vitolo earns 8/10, opens account with Atletico in lopsided win over Lleida
Atletico Madrid strolled into the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey as they swatted aside Lleida 3-0 in Madrid on Tuesday, sealing a 7-0 aggregate victory.
They dominated from start to finish, however cut a frustrated bunch in the first half with some profligate finishing.
That all changed after the break, with Vitolo opening his account for the club after Yannick Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro also netted to complete the rout.
Atletico roll on into the quarterfinal draw for the sixth straight season and can genuinely believe they have a chance of lifting silverware for the first time since 2014 with a squad enhanced by the arrivals of Diego Costa and the aforementioned Vitolo.
Carrasco's first goal since September is a timely confidence boost for the Belgian, whose Atletico days seemed numbered by the arrival of the latter.
Nit-picking but there could have been even more goals. Fernando Torres missed out on a golden chance to improve his goalscoring ratio for the season.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Diego Simeone sensibly left out Diego Godin, Koke, Saul Niguez and Antoine Griezmann with a demanding schedule of league, cup and Europa League matches on the horizon. Sergio Gonzalez was handed a rare outing at left-back, but Simeone could arguably have afforded more youngsters a run out with such a commanding lead from the first leg.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Miguel Angel Moya, 6 -- Not seriously tested in sealing another Copa clean sheet.
DF Juanfran, 7 -- Has lost his place in the side to a revitalised Sime Vrsaljko in recent weeks and the veteran did little going forward to rival the Croatian's three assists in the last four games.
DF Stefan Savic, 6 -- Also had more testing nights but one weak second-half header did allow Lleida a rare shot on goal via a spectacular Jorge Felix overhead kick.
DF Lucas Hernandez , 6 -- Unlucky to see his thumping early header come back off the woodwork.
DF Sergio Gonzalez, 6 -- Unsteady start from the youngster defensively, but he grew into just his second Atletico start to pose a threat going forward after the break.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 7 -- Got a much-needed goal with virtually his last touch before making way for Angel Correa.
MF Gabi, 6 -- Handing a 34-year-old the full 90 minutes in a tie that was already long decided was questionable, but it proved a stroll for the captain.
MF Augusto Fernandez, 6 -- Again, whether two holding midfielders were really necessary is open for debate, but this was another important 90 minutes for the Argentine on his long road back from injury.
MF Vitolo, 8 -- The Spanish international opened his Atletico account with some help from Lleida keeper Diego Rivas, but the goal was just reward for a lively all-round display.
FW Fernando Torres, 6 -- One fine through ball for Diego Costa before half-time went unrewarded as his strike partner fluffed his lines, but rarely looked like scoring himself.
FW Diego Costa, 7 -- Made amends for that miss with a classic Costa run and intelligent cut-back for Carrasco's opener.
DF Antonio Montoro (for Lucas), 6 -- A second-half stroll for the 20-year-old on debut.
FW Angel Correa (for Carrasco), 7 -- Fine run and cross provided the second on a plate for Gameiro.
FW Kevin Gameiro (for Costa), 7 -- A classic Gameiro performance, missed a sitter but got in the position once more for a tap-in.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.