FERNANDO TORRES was the hero of one half of Madrid last night after netting two goals to send his boyhood club into a quarter-final Copa del Rey clash with Barcelona.
‘El Niño’ – who began his career with Atletico Madrid and is currently back with the team on loan from Italian side Milan – scored his first two goals for his old club against Real Madrid in the first minute of either half. Both strikes were cancelled out by equalisers from Sergio Ramos and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to see the game end in a 2-2 draw, but Atletico’s 2-0 win in the first leg means they progress to the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.
The much-anticipated ‘El Clasico’ clash got off to a flying start when in the first minute of the game Antoine Griezmann sped down the left flank and put in a wonderful cross for Torres to smash a left-foot shot high into the net. It was Torres’ first ever goal against Real Madrid and he was to do it again in the first minute of the second half when he coolly slotted past goalkeeper Kaylor Navas after picking up another pass from Griezmann in the penalty area. The 30-year-old former Liverpool and Chelsea player was substituted on the hour and Atletico finished out the game without ever looking severely troubled.
A delighted Torres commented afterwards: “The fact that we scored so early meant we could play the game we wanted. We never felt the tie was in danger and we weren’t under stress. I was smiling when I came off because of the win and for scoring my first two goals (since I returned to Spain) and also for doing it in a stadium where I hadn’t managed it before.”
Atletico Madrid will face Barcelona in next week’s quarter-final after Barcelona progressed comfortably against Elche 9-0 on aggregate.