Champions League

Atletico Madrid cruise to victory

2015-10-22 08:36
Jackson Martinez (Supplied)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid eased past Kazak champions Astana 4-0 on Wednesday to get their European campaign back on track after a shock defeat to Benfica last time out.

Saul Niguez opened the scoring with a clever backheel before Jackson Martinez scored his first goal at the Vicente Calderon for Atletico to put the hosts well on course for victory.

Substitute Oliver Torres added a third after the break before Denis Dedchenko's late own goal rounded off the scoring.

"I am happy to get the victory because it puts us ahead in a difficult group that is further complicated by Galatasaray's win," Atletico boss Diego Simeone said.

"It is an important step for the team. From what I saw from an Astana side with a lot of players missing, it will also be a very difficult game when we go there."

Galatasaray's 2-1 win over Benfica in the other game in the Group C means Atletico draw level with Benfica at the top on six points, two points clear of the Turkish champions.

Astana had travelled over 5 000 kilometres west to the Spanish capital and were immediately under the cosh from the 2013/14 finalists.

Goalkeeper Nenad Eric denied Diego Godin twice from dangerous corners, but it was another well-worked set-piece that produced the opening goal midway through the first-half.

A short corner between Gabi and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco freed the Belgian and his cross was flicked home by Saul.

Martinez has failed to live up to his price tag since a 35 million euro move from Porto in the summer, but Diego Simeone's faith in the Colombian was rewarded when he finally found the net thanks to a deflection off a stray Astana leg to double Atletico's lead six minutes later.

"The goal was a moment of joy for the whole team. I have been working hard to try and contribute," said Martinez.

"It was like a liberation from the games that had gone before."

Only a brilliant save from Eric denied Martinez a second from a thumping header just before half-time.

However, the third goal did arrive for the hosts just after the hour mark as a lung-bursting run from captain Gabi teed up Oliver to chip home.

Atletico 'keeper Jan Oblak had been a mere spectator for much of the evening, but he produced a brilliant save from Foxi Kethevoama moments later to ensure Simeone's men kept an eighth clean sheet in their last nine home games in the Champions League.

Fernando Torres replaced Martinez for the final 25 minutes and passed up two great chances to register his 100th goal for the club.

Yet, Atletico did get a fourth a minute from time when Dedchenko could only turn Juanfran's driven cross into his own net.

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