Atlético Madrid had little incentive to boost an already-impressive lead against Lleida in the Copa del Rey last 16, but Diego Simeone’s men pulled away in the second half to win 3-0 and complete a 7-0 aggregate trouncing of the Segunda B side.
Simeone saw flexibility to rotate his squad and try out some younger players. Center back prospect Antonio Montoro started on the bench and entered for fellow canterano Lucas Hernández at half time. Sergi González started at left back, and the 22-year-old acquitter himself well; the last we saw of him was in preseason.
The first half saw Simeone come out with his regular 4-4-2 formation with Diego Costa and Fernando Torres up front. Even with a 4-0 aggregate advantage, Simeone’s men did not take their foot off the gas, which led to many good chances. Lucas hit the post from a Gabi corner on 15 minutes and Costa was stopped 1v1 by goalkeeper Diego Rivas.
Sergi and Juanfran, who turned 33 on Tuesday, did well to serve up dangerous crosses. Costa and Torres did well to get their heads on the ball, but their shots were just off target. Lleida offered very little going forward and Atlético did well to keep the ball. Even as the scoreline read 0-0 at halftime, it seemed only a matter of time before a strong and compact Atleti broke through.
In the 57th minute, Yannick Carrasco broke the deadlock with a volleyed finish from a Costa pass. The Spain striker may not have been able to score in a third straight game, but his impact was felt through solid runs and incisive passing. And for Carrasco, perhaps his goal will portend a big 2018; when fit and motivated, the Belgian can be a very dangerous wide presence.
Carrasco was lifted in the 61st minute, and Simeone’s subs continued to feast on a lackluster Lleida defense. In the 74th minute, Ángel Correa dribbled along the boundary and passed to Kévin Gameiro to slot in the second goal. And Vitolo — making his Wanda Metropolitano debut — hit a thunderous finish from a lofted Torres pass to round out the scoring on 81 minutes.