A brace by substitute Elias helped Atlético to a 2-0 advantage over Vitória de Guimarães in the first round of the Europa League.
The Brazilian was brought on in the second half and broke the deadlock against the Portuguese, who at that point were a man down after João Paulo’s dismissal in the 65th minute.
Atleti started the match strongly and created a chance early on, but Mario Suárez headed wide.
In the 22nd minute Tiago almost scored a fantastic goal when he brought down a high ball on his chest and then attempted a bicycle kick, but his attempt was off target.
Atleti continued to press which lead to a chance for Reyes, but the Andalusian shot wide with his weaker right foot.
One of our most impressive players tonight was Sílvio, who provided an attacking option on the right wing during the entire match. After half an hour the right back almost beautifully curled the ball into the topcorner, but his strike hit the crossbar and came back into play.
During half time Atlético officially announced the signing of Falcao on the stadium monitors and for the first fifteen minutes of the second half it seemed as if the players were surprised by the news as well.
Little happened after the break until João Paulo was deservedly sent off for a rash challenge on Adrián, after which Atleti quickly struck and opened the scoring. Adrián received the ball in the box and did extremely well to find Elias at the second post, who headed in the 1-0.
The Brazilian midfielder had replaced Salvio some minutes prior to his goal and even doubled the score a little later. Adrián again assisted Elias and the midfielder, whose future remains uncertain, slotted the ball into the corner to double our margin.
Atleti took a two goal lead but were fortunate not to go behind earlier on when the score was still tied and Toscano hit the post for Vitória.
We got plenty of opportunities in the last part of the game to put the tie to bed, but Reyes fired wide and Domínguez smashed his header against the crossbar.
Tonight’s gamechanger could have completed his hat-trick shortly before the end, but Elias failed to beat Nilson a third time.
The goalkeeper prevented a bigger loss and despite trailing by two goals the Portuguese can hold on to their slender chance of advancing to the group stages of the Europa League. The return leg will be played next Thursday at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques.
Line-up: Joel; Sílvio, Perea, Domínguez, Filipe; Gabi, Mario Suárez (“70 Juanfran), Tiago; Reyes (“79 López), Adrián and Salvio (“66 Elias).
Goals: 1-0 Elias (“68); 2-0 Elias (“73)