Atletico blitzes Hapoel TA at Bloomfield

Europa League: Reigning Europa champs shut out reds 3-0 for 14th straight continental win.

ATLETICO MADRID’S Diego Costa  kicks to score 370 (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
ATLETICO MADRID’S Diego Costa kicks to score 370
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Hapoel Tel Aviv was humbled 3-0 by Atletico Madrid in its Europa League Group B opener on Thursday night, looking completely out of its depth for much of the match at Bloomfield Stadium.
The reigning Europa League winner came to Israel without star striker Falcao and four other starters, but it still easily dominated Hapoel, scoring twice in four first half minutes through Cristian Rodriguez (37) and Diego Costa (40) to effectively clinch its 14th straight win in continental competition.
Raul Garcia poured salt on Hapoel’s wounds with another goal in the 63rd minute.
After Thursday’s disappointing, yet unsurprising, setback, Hapoel will look to get its campaign up and running when it visits Adademica de Coimbra of Portugal in its second group match in two weeks time.
Adademica lost 3-1 at Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic on Thursday.
Later Thursday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona opened its account in Europa League Group I with an admirable 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
Adrian Rochet gave Kiryat Shmona the lead in the 14th minute thanks to a fortuitous deflection, but Markel Susaeta equalized for the hosts five minutes from halftime.   
However, despite registering 22 attempts at goal compared to just two by the Israeli champion, Bilbao couldn't find a winner, with goalkeeper Danny Amos coming to Kiryat Shmona's rescue time and again.
Both Hapoel and Madrid were tentative in the opening stages, but it wouldn’t take the visitors long to seize control of proceedings, pressing Hapoel players across the field and forcing numerous turnovers.
Brazilian Diego Costa was terrorizing the Tel Aviv defense and goalkeeper Apoula Edel was all that stood between Madrid and the breakthrough.
Hapoel finally created an opening in the 26th minute, with Tal Ben-Haim surging into the box before squaring the ball for Toto Tamuz, who couldn’t place his volley on target.
However, that proved to be Hapoel’s only chance of the first half and Atletico ultimately converted its dominance into two goals in four minutes.
Yigal Antebi gave the ball away carelessly in the 37th minute and Rodriguez released an unstoppable left-footed effort from the edge of the area.
Three minutes later, Gili Vermut was guilty of a turnover and Costa rounded Edel to give Atletico a deserved two-goal advantage at the break.
Ben-Haim was the only Hapoel player who caused Atletico any sort of trouble in the second half, but the visitors extended their lead nevertheless, with Raul Garcia scoring in the 63rd minute to cap a miserable night for the Reds.