Atlético Madrid secured its place in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 on Tuesday night, completing its competitive fixture list for 2016 in style.
Atlético defeated Segunda B side Guijuelo 4-1 at the Vicente Calderón and won the tie 10-1 on aggregate. It is the first Copa tie Atleti have won by that scoreline since 1983.
Kévin Gameiro and Juanfran re-entered the squad after being rested for the first leg, while Yannick Carrasco began on the bench after scoring a brace in Salamanca. Fernando Torres made his first start since Nov. 19 and donned the captain’s band after Saúl Ñíguez wore it in the 6-0 first leg win on Nov. 30.
Nico Gaitán opened the scoring inside 20 minutes, taking a pass inside the box from Thomas Partey and scoring a peach of a goal (his third of the season) into the far right corner. Five minutes later, Gaitán struck a header off the bar, but Ángel Correa was there to turn, control and lash home Atlético’s second of the night. Just before the half hour mark, Correa played a through ball to Juanfran, playing in his old position as a winger. Juanfran scored on a powerful right-footed shot to expand the lead to 3-0, and just before halftime, Fernando Torres took advantage of a defensive mishap in front of goalkeeper Carlos Morales (on loan from Atleti), sliding and finishing for his first goal in more than three months.
Ten-man Guijuelo (Raúl Ruíz was sent off for a dive with the score at 3-0) fought on, however, taking home a consolation goal when a great cross found the head of Antonio Pino, who looped home a header past Miguel Ángel Moyà to complete the scoring.
Carrasco and Gameiro each played 15 minutes, replacing scorers Gaitán and Correa. But the most notable substitute was none other than Alessio Cerci, who replaced Saúl on the hour.
This match marked Cerci’s first appearance in red and white since Dec. 14, 2014, a 1-0 home loss to Villarreal in LaLiga. Three weeks after that game, the Italian was loaned to Milan in part-exchange for Torres before moving to Genoa on loan and returning to Madrid last summer. He still is likely to move back to Italy next month, but those in attendance will always be able to say they saw Alessio Cerci ply his trade for Atlético in person.
I envy those people.
In all seriousness, however, it speaks somewhat highly of Cerci that he worked his way diligently back to fitness (without complaining this time around) and was rewarded with a solid 30 minutes of action in a low-pressure game at the Calderón. Plus, his inclusion allowed more valuable players to rest. All in all, it was a win-win for everyone.
Atlético now are off until Dec. 30, when the team will play a friendly against Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.