Atletico beats Malmo 2-0 in Champions League
MALMO, Sweden (AP) — Koke and Raul Garcia scored as Atletico Madrid beat Malmo 2-0 for a crucial away win Tuesday and surged to the top of Group A in the Champions League.
The Spanish club, which trounced Malmo 5-0 at home two weeks ago, had to work much harder for their victory at Malmo’s New Stadium.
Koke scored on the half hour, angling in a low pass from Juanfran with his heel. Atletico could have taken the lead earlier but Malmo goalkeeper Robin Olsen blocked Raul Garcia’s shot in the 21st minute.
Malmo chased an equalizer before the break and kept up the pressure at the start of the second half. Atletico’s lead was under threat as Diego Godin blocked Anton Tinnerholm’s powerful volley and Malmo striker Markus Rosenberg hit the outside of the post.
But Malmo slowly started running out of energy and Raul Garcia effectively ended Malmo’s chances on a counterattack as he picked up a rebound in the area in the 78th minute and slammed in the winner inside the far post.
“For 20-25 minutes in the second half they put us under pressure,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “Going up 2-0 gave us the calm to better control the rhythm of the match.”
Atletico leads the group with nine points, three clear of Juventus and Olympiakos. Malmo has three points, and its hopes of advancing to the next round are slim.
Malmo coach Age Hareide said he was disappointed that his team didn’t manage to score despite creating chances in the second half and holding 55 percent of the possession against the Spanish champion and last year’s Champions League runner-up.
“At this level you must be flawless in both directions, up front and at the back,” Hareide said.
England coach Roy Hodgson, who won two Swedish championships with Malmo in the 1980s, received a standing ovation at halftime when he addressed the crowd in fluent Swedish, wearing a Malmo scarf around his neck. Hodgson remains highly popular in Malmo where fans have nicknamed a section of their stadium “Roy’s corner.”