Atletico set up Real clash

Simeone's men ride on Mandzukic's brace to see off Hospitalet

Atletico set up Real clash

Atletico Madrid will face holders Real Madrid in the last 16 of the King's Cup after a double from Mario Mandzukic sealed a 5-2 aggregate victory over lower league Hospitalet on Thursday.

Ruben Alcaraz got both goals for Hospitalet who drew 2-2 at the Calderon against an Atletico side with most of their regular players rested following a 3-0 first leg victory.

Mandzukic, who is suspended for the trip to Athletic Bilbao this weekend, pounced midway through the first half but Alcaraz brought the team from the Spanish third tier back on level terms with a deflected shot after 66 minutes.

The Croat restored Atletico's lead with a diving header from a Koke cross before Alcaraz hit a swerving shot into the roof of the net to give some joy for the visitors. Atletico now face Real, who beat them in the semi-finals last season, in the last 16.

"This year we have only lost one game at home at the Calderon and this shows the work of the players," Simeone told a news conference. "Hopefully we can keep going the same way. In terms of this game I am happy with what I saw. We started well and scored while in the second half the Hospitalet players responded well.

"They had a bit of luck with their first goal and the second was something special."
Elsewhere, Malaga overcame Deportivo La Coruna 5-2 on aggregate, Athletic Bilbao beat Alcoyano 2-1 overall and Elche advanced after a 1-0 advantage from their two games against Valladolid.

Talisman impresses gaffer Filling the shoes of Diego Costa at Atletico Madrid was always going to be a tall order but coach Diego Simeone is pleased so far with the performances of Mario Mandzukic.

Atletico bought Mandzukic from Bayern Munich to replace Costa following the Brazil-born forward's departure for Chelsea in the close season.

While he may lack Costa's pace and ability to run at defenders, Mandzukic is equally strong in the air and his positioning and eye for goal make him lethal inside the penalty area.

He started his career in Spain with a bang when he scored the goal that won the Spanish Super Cup against Real in August but it took time for him to settle as Atletico sought to rebuild after the exits of Costa, fullback Filipe Luis and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

In 13 La Liga appearances this term, Mandzukic has netted six goals, while in the Champions League his return is five in six games, helping Atletico top their group ahead of Juventus.

"His enthusiasm and his ability have gelled with a team that plays in the same way," Simeone told a news conference.

"At the start maybe he found it a bit tough but he has become more involved with each match and his relationship with his team mates is improving all the time," added the Argentine, who has a reputation for getting the best out of his players.”

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