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Raúl García strike enough for Atlético to advance

Thursday 22 November 2012 23.30 CET
Goalscorer Raúl García congratulates Emre Belözoğlu for his assist

Club Atlético de Madrid will defend their UEFA Europa League title in the round of 32 after securing their passage out of Group B with victory against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC. 

Taking charge of his 50th game at the helm of the Rojiblancos, Diego Simeone rang the changes for the matchday five encounter, but the holders nonetheless chalked up their fourth win in the section thanks to Raúl García's early strike.

Having seen their record 16-game winning sequence in UEFA competition come to an end with defeat at A. Académica de Coimbra two weeks ago, Atlético appeared determined to build the foundations for a new run, taking the lead in the seventh minute. 

Running free of the visiting defence down the right, the lively Adrián López cut the ball into the area. Goalkeeper Édel Apoula could only parry out to Emre Belözoğlu, whose spin and pass back towards Raúl García was met with a firm shot that bounced in off the crossbar. 

The goal jolted Josef Abuksis's side – bottom of the group – into action and they went close to equalising when Hanan Maman headed Roei Gordana's corner into the side netting. Eliran Danin then caused a fright among the home support as he broke clear and nodded John Pantsil's centre wide.

Hapoel demonstrated plenty of enthusiasm as they sought to curtail Atlético's 11-match European winning streak at the Vicente Calderón, with Tal Ben Haim bursting clean through after the interval only to be denied by Sergio Asenjo.

Atlético eventually rallied, with Adrián flashing a header narrowly over before pouncing on Koke's through pass and hitting the legs of the alert Apoula. Those misses mattered little for the hosts, however, with victory meaning they will contest the group leadership away to FC Viktoria Plzeň on 6 December.

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