We learned on Wednesday night that atmosphere matters. After Liverpool’s mauling of Manchester City last night with the help of the Anfield crowd, Sporting Clube de Portugal didn’t do much to quell the noise coming from the stands in the Europa League quarter-final at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday night.
A mistake at the back after just 23 seconds sent Diego Costa through as he fed Koke for the opener. An already spirited atmosphere turned into an explosive one after that — and while it tailed off as the half wore on, Atlético Madrid were comfortable after their early goal.
On Jérémy Mathieu’s return to Spain, he came bearing gifts and handed one to Antoine Griezmann on 40 minutes when he mis-controlled a routine pass as the last man back, allowing his compatriot to land Atlético’s second of the game.
Costa found himself through on goal at the start of the second half but had the ball taken off his toe by Rui Patricio as he dived at his feet. Diego Godín had the ball in the back of the net but there was an offside in the build-up and Atletico had to settle for their 2-0 lead again.
With 72 hours until the Madrid derby and a win in that almost guaranteeing Atletico a finish above their rivals in the league for the season, the intensity dropped. A very late chance for Sporting saw Fredy Montero send a rebounded effort over the bar from close range as Atleti nearly gave up an away goal. They were spared, though.
That’s how it ended at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Atlético giving themselves enough of a lead in the first leg to be satisfied but far from fully confident heading to Lisbon for the second leg. A tough week lies ahead for the rojiblancos but the first test in that week is over and they passed with flying colours.