Club Atlético de Madrid opened their UEFA Europa League title defence with an impressive 3-0 victory at Group B rivals Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
Without Falcao, UEFA Europa League top scorer in each of the past two seasons, Atlético nevertheless had few problems negotiating Hapoel. Cristian Rodríguez and Diego Costa struck in quick succession just before the interval and Raúl García rubber-stamped the victory shortly after the hour mark.
García, Adrián López and Diego Costa all went close to giving the visitors an early lead, but Hapoel were quick to respond with an opportunity of their own. Tal Ben Haim's run down the left caused problems in Atlético's defence and Toto Tamuz nearly scored from close range.
Eight minutes prior to half-time, though, Atlético's pressure paid off thanks to Rodríguez's splendid strike from outside the penalty area, which fizzed into the top right-hand corner. Three minutes later the holders had a deserved 2-0 lead, López picking out Costa who rounded Édel Apoula and tapped into the empty net.
Diego Simeone's side continued to dominate after the break, with García first to be thwarted by the attentions of Apoula. The 26-year-old midfielder got his just dessert on 63 minutes, however, when he met Emre Belözoğlu's corner with a clinical right-footed finish.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.