Angel Correa and Joao Felix struck to give out-of-form Atletico Madrid a 2-0 victory at fifth-tier Almazan to reach the Copa del Rey second round.
Atletico have not won in five LaLiga matches but a dominant first-half display saw Correa put them 1-0 up at the break when he took advantage of a mistake from Almazan goalkeeper Alberto Gonzalez.
Felix added a smart second after the break, beating his man before clinically firing into the back of the net to make the game safe.
Atletico consequently cruise into the next round of a competition they have won 10 times, though not since the 2012-13 season.
Correa had already tested Gonzalez by the time Marcos Llorente hit the crossbar with a bouncing effort after Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick fell at this feet.
Koke’s deflected shot also rattled the woodwork after more fine Griezmann work and Gonzalez made a superb stop to deny Llorente’s low drive.
But Felix’s long-range shot was too hot for Gonzalez to handle with Correa tapping in the rebound 10 minutes before the break.
Felix added a sublime second in the 63rd-minute, shifting onto his left foot outside the box before rifling into the bottom-right corner.
Griezmann thought he had added a third when he deftly steered home Nahuel Molina’s cross, though the offside flag went up to curtail his celebrations.
Koke missed a great opportunity to round out the scoring late on, but he could only side-foot wide.
What does it mean? Atletico head off to World Cup in improved spirits
Simeone’s men have found it tough of late, but this win will foster some positivity at least as the first half of their season comes to a close.
As you would expect with the disparity in level, Atletico cruised to victory here, having 80.6 per cent of the possession and registering 26 attempts on goal to Almazan’s four.
Felix showed why he was included in Portugal’s World Cup squad with an impressive display.
Aside from his excellent finish for the second, Felix ranked joint-second for key passes (three) among Atletico players and completed 89.2 per cent of his total pass attempts.
Koke not at his best
Koke will be disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet here, missing two decent chances.
He failed to hit the target with either of his shots, including a bad miss late on when Molina’s sublime cross picked him out in the box. The veteran midfielder will be relieved that Atletico were never in any real danger of an Almazan comeback.
Atletico now pause for the World Cup, and will not be back in action until December 31, when they will host Elche in LaLiga. Almazan meanwhile turn their attentions back to the league, hosting Santa Marta next Sunday.
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