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Atlético advantage reduced by old boy Simão

Published: Thursday 8 March 2012, 21.07CET
Club Atlético de Madrid 3-1 Beşiktaş JK
A volley from former Rojiblancos favourite Simão has given Beşiktaş, who were three down at the break, some hope ahead of the second leg.
by Paul Bryan
from Estadio Vicente Calderón

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Published: Thursday 8 March 2012, 21.07CET

Atlético advantage reduced by old boy Simão

Club Atlético de Madrid 3-1 Beşiktaş JK
A volley from former Rojiblancos favourite Simão has given Beşiktaş, who were three down at the break, some hope ahead of the second leg.

Club Atlético de Madrid signalled serious intent to regain the UEFA Europa League trophy they won two years ago with a blistering first-half display that leaves Beşiktaş JK with a tricky task in next week's round of 16 return.

Prior to the first meeting between these sides in UEFA competition, Atlético coach Diego Simeone warned that the Turkish club were a "team to be afraid of". However, it was the hosts who struck fear into the visiting side before the break, scoring twice in three minutes through Eduardo Salvio before Adrián López added a solo third. Returning midfielder Simão struck a vital 53rd-minute reply for the Black Eagles, who improved considerably after the restart.

Moments before kick-off, the home supporters offered a moving welcome to Simão − who left the Vicente Calderón for Istanbul midway through last season − yet the niceties ended there as Atlético set about Beşiktaş, Falcao prodding a chance wide after three minutes.

Salvio spurned an opportunity to open the scoring in the 18th minute when he sliced at the far post, but swiftly atoned for that miss when he pulled Koke's flighted pass from the air, beat Veli Kavlak and finished under goalkeeper Cenk Gönen. The 21-year-old had failed to register in five previous UEFA Europa League games this season but his and Atlético's second soon arrived, following Koke's defence-splitting pass, as he chipped Cenk.

Seeking a seventh successive European success on home soil, the Rojiblancos forged further ahead eight minutes before the break when Necip Uysal's loose pass allowed Adrián to race from the halfway line into the penalty area, from where he sent a shot in off the crossbar.

Now unlikely to gain a first win on Spanish soil at the eighth attempt, Beşiktaş nonetheless sought to keep the tie alive and reduced their deficit after the restart through Simão's smart volley. Mustafa Pektemek then deflected an effort narrowly wide while substitute Filip Hološko drew a fine save from Thibaut Courtois before the end, giving Carlos Carvalhal's side cause for optimism ahead of the second leg.

Last updated: 05/12/12 0.45CET

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