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Atletico cruise past Eibar, towards Cup semis

Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid took a huge step towards the Copa del Rey semi-finals as goals from Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro downed an under-strength Eibar 3-0 in their quarter-final, first leg on Thursday.

In contrast to the Basque visitors, Atletico boss Diego Simeone named a strong, attack-minded side and was rewarded early on when Griezmann pounced on an error from Eibar goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez to nod home his 13th goal of the season.

Correa tapped home a scrappy second on the hour mark before Griezmann teed up substitute Gameiro to put the tie seemingly beyond Eibar’s reach even with the return leg to come at Ipurua on Wednesday.

Barcelona travel to Real Sociedad looking to end an eight-game winless run in San Sebastian, stretching back to 2007, in the first leg of their quarter-final later on Thursday.

Despite largely empty stands amidst freezing temperatures in the Spanish capital, Atletico made light work of an Eibar side shorn of many of their usual starting line-up to ensure the return leg should be a mere formality.

The hosts had the ball in the net on 25 minutes, but Stefan Savic was harshly adjudged to have been offside as he slotted home from close range.

However, Atletico had to wait only three minutes more to open the scoring when Jose Maria Gimenez beat Rodriguez to a free-kick lofted into the area and Griezmann headed the Uruguayan’s knockdown into an empty net.

Rodriguez nearly redeemed himself in the second-half when Yannick Carrasco bore down on goal, but despite saving the Belgian’s effort, the ball fell kindly for Correa to tap home the rebound.

Seven minutes later Atletico killed the tie off when Griezmann headed across goal from Koke’s corner and the grateful Gameiro was left unmarked to nod home.

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