On the day for the fans, Atlético secured a 2-0 victory over Real Zaragoza.
With the pressure piling on Gregorio Manzano, the team desperately needed a positive result.
Goals by Adrián and Álvaro Domínguez in the first half separated the sides and made for our first win in eight games.
Manzano made three changes to the side that lost 3-0 to Athletic Bilbao in mid-week.
Domínguez and Mario returned to the starting XI, as well as Adrián, who replaced Reyes. The Andalusian wasn’t even in the 18-man squad, after falling out with Manzano during Thursday’s thumping in San Mamés.
The coach tweaked his formation and lined up with a 4-3-1-2. Initially the players seemed lost and struggled not to get in each other’s way, which made for an uneventful first period.
When Atlético created their first opportunity after 20 minutes, they immediately scored. Arda Turan carefully placed a cross on Adrián‘s head, and the striker left Roberto without a chance with a powerful header from twelve yards out.
Arda played a midfield role today and saw more of the ball than in previous games. Along with Diego, the Turk ran our midfield and orchestrated most of our attacks.
After half an hour Diego controlled a pass from midfield, but the Brazilian was forced wide and was unable to shoot, only winning a foul. The ensuing free kick was delivered to the far post by Gabi. Diego Godín brought it back to the near post where his partner in defence, Álvaro Domínguez, headed in the 2-0.
Thibaut Courtois was called to action when Hélder Postiga almost immediately struck back for the visitors. It was one of the few times that Zaragoza appeared near the Belgium goalkeeper.
During half time former Atleti coach and now Zaragoza boss Javier Aguirre brought on two substitutions, one of them Rubén Micael. The Portuguese midfielder was signed by the Rojiblancos this summer and is on loan for the Aragonese outfit.
After the break Luis García curled a free kick just over the crossbar, while Diego Godín attempted a spectacular bicycle kick which went off target.
In the 66th minute Sílvio was replaced by Perea, who received a standing ovation from the fans at the Vicente Calderón. Luis Amaranto made his 291st appearance, equalling Jorge Griffa as the foreigner with most caps for the club in all competitions.
Both sides hardly created any opportunities in the second half. When the crowd finally lifted off their seats again it was because Lanzaro almost beat his own goalkeeper. The corner kick that ensued was headed wide by Mario Suárez.
A minute later Atleti did get into a lucrative situation, but Radamel Falcao went for his own glory rather than using Adrián and Diego who were next to him.
Falcao again was isolated from his team-mates. The Colombian’s link-up play was poor and his colleagues were unable to find him. When he did get a chance he headed into the hands of Roberto.
The former Atlético ‘keeper was beaten a third time when Adrián slotted the ball underneath him after great work by Filipe.
Adrián’s brace should have decided the match, but during a complete lapse in concentration Hélder Postiga was allowed to head in a corner kick to make it 3-1. It was only the second goal we’ve conceded at home this season.
Shortly before the end there was an opportunity for Falcao, but his shot went wide. Diego too had a big chance to score, but Roberto did very well to shut him out.
In the final minutes Arda and Adrián combined with two backheels and almost enabled Falcao to score. Out of pure frustration the record signing kicked the post while the ball was still in play, and missed Roberto’s save on a shot by Koke.
Our victory over Zaragoza is the first time we’ve picked up the full three points since the 21st of September. Next up for Atleti is our home match against Udinese on Thursday.
Line-up: Courtois; Sílvio (“66 Perea), Godín, Domínguez, Filipe; Gabi, Mario (“78 Tiago), Diego (“87 Koke); Adrián, Falcao and Arda Turan.
Goals: 1-0 Adrián (“19); 2-0 Domínguez (“31); 3-0 Adrián (“75); 3-1 Helder Postiga (“78)