MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid cruised to their fourth consecutive victory with a 4-0 win at home to Austria Vienna on Wednesday, securing top spot in Champions League Group G and a place in the knockout rounds.
Miranda, Raul Garcia and Filipe Luis put La Liga’s second- placed side three up before halftime and leading scorer Diego Costa netted the fourth late on after missing a second-half penalty.
Riding high in La Liga, behind leaders Barcelona but five points ahead of big-spending neighbors Real, Atletico have proved they will be uncomfortable opponents for any side who cross their path.
A club record fourth consecutive win in Europe’s elite club competition takes their form this season to 15 victories, two draws and only one defeat in all competitions.
Group G’s second-placed side Zenit St Petersburg were earlier held to a 1-1 draw at home to Porto to move on to five points, seven adrift of leaders Atletico with two matches left to play.
“We are very pleased with the result today,” Costa told Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus in a pitchside interview.
“We knew it was important to win because of the result between Porto and Zenit. There is still a long way to go but we deserve to be in the last 16.”
Coach Diego Simeone played down his side’s achievements.
“We are taking it one game at a time in the Champions League and staying humble,” he said, once again avoiding talk of how far his club could go this season.
“We’ll take it one step at a time but with the great enthusiasm that Atletico always have.”
Vienna coach Nenad Bjelica, however, was prepared to go a step further.
“You need luck to win the Champions League but I see Atletico strong enough to go and win this competition. It’s an advantage for them that they don’t have any pressure to win it.”
Atletico were soon on top at a half-full Calderon as Koke’s corner from the right fell in the area and Miranda reacted quickest to stroke the ball into the corner of the goal after 11 minutes.
Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois and his opposite Heinz Lindner both made sharp saves, from Daniel Royer and Costa respectively, but the hosts always looked the more dangerous side.
Costa beat his marker wide on the right after 25 minutes and crossed for Garcia to loop a header in for the second, and Lindner was soon in action again, palming away a Costa volley.
It was one-way traffic just before the break when Juanfran crossed, Adrian Lopez fired goalwards and Luis pounced to sweep Lindner’s weak parry into the net.
The visitors, struggling domestically, bottom of the group and without a goal to their name, rarely threatened in the second half when their fresh-faced 23-year-old keeper Lindner came to the fore.
He made a number of outstanding saves, palming away a long-range effort from substitute Cristian Rodriguez, who was later felled by Manuel Ortlechner for a penalty with 15 minutes remaining.
Lindner dived to his left to block Costa’s weakly-hit spot kick, an act which clearly annoyed Atletico’s burly frontman.
The Brazilian-born striker, who has declared his wish to play for Spain, threw his gloves to the ground in disgust and appeared determined to make amends.
Linder denied him with an out-stretched arm two minutes later, but in the 82nd minute he was finally breached by Costa when he smartly finished after Garcia’s backheel.
Reporting by Mark Elkington, editing by Ed Osmond and Josh Reich