Club Atlético de Madrid returned to the UEFA Cup after a seven-season absence and took control of their second qualifying round tie against FK Vojvodina in front of a full house at the Vicente Calderón stadium.
Having warned during the week that he would field a full-strength attack, Atlético coach Javier Aguirre started with Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán up front with Simão, making his competitive debut for the club, and Maxi Rodríguez in support. His tactics reaped dividends as Maxi, Forlán and Agüero all found the target.
The pressure was on the Serbian visitors from the start and Forlán had the ball in the net on 13 minutes, the goal chalked off for offside. That just spurred the home team on and Maniche shot just wide eleven minutes later before Agüero forced Vojvodina goalkeeper Damir Kahriman into a diving save. Maxi made the breakthrough on 37 minutes as Agüero ran past his markers and crossed for his team-mate to touch in.
The visitors lost Milan Milutinović to a second yellow card early in the second half and Atlético made it 2-0 on the hour mark after Maniche’s powerful drive deflected into the path of Forlán, who shot into the corner of the net for his second goal in as many competitive games for the club.
Agüero rounded off the victory soon after when Forlán turned provider with a fine cross for his Argentinian colleague to volley in. Maniche and José Manuel Jurado both threatened a fourth goal, but Atlético nonetheless have a healthy lead to take to Serbia in a fortnight and the UEFA Intertoto Cup winners can feel they have at least partly banished the memory of losing a European Champion Clubs' Cup replay at home against Vojvodina 40 years ago.