Kévin Gameiro scored his fourth goal in five games on Thursday night against Copenhagen to ensure Atlético Madrid would have no complications in their pursuit of a last 16 spot in Friday’s Europa League draw.
It is Atlético’s first dalliance with the Europa League since the 2012-13 campaign and they will be happy to be in the last 16 — although you have to suspect that their priority will be LaLiga if they believe they have even half a chance of piping Barcelona to the top spot.
Diego Simeone started Fernando Torres alongside Gameiro on Thursday and was able to give Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann a rest with Sevilla waiting at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán on Sunday night. Yannick Carrasco was left out of the squad entirely with his future at the Wanda Metropolitano up in the air.
Gameiro struck with a lovely left-footed effort after seven minutes and an already monumental task became even harder for the visiting Danish side. Atlético rarely pushed themselves after that opener but had more shots than their opponents and bossed possession, too.
The French striker came close midway through the second half but he was rejected in a one-on-one situation before he was subbed off — presumably with Sunday in mind too. Nicolás Gaitán, making his first appearance since November, came close and looked lively on occasion. It was a good chance to give minutes to some of the squad players but Simeone and Atlético know that tougher tasks lay ahead in their pursuit of silverware.