Atlético Madrid travelled but failed to turn up in another away match.
On Thursday night, the Colchoneros lost 4-2 to a vibrant Espanyol side, who capitalised on mistakes early on and were more aggressive over the course of the entire game.
Diego Godín, Thibaut Courtois and Arda Turan all returned to the starting line-up after sitting out suspension last week. The biggest surprise in Gregorio Manzano’s eleven was the omission of topscorer Adrián.
We assume Atleti had travelled to the capital of Cataluña with the best of intentions, but not for a second tonight showed the team the will to get their first away win of the season.
Courtois hit a poor kick in the 5th minute and Espanyol pounced immediately on the first weakness Atleti showed. Joan Verdú picked up the ball and scored from 30 meters out after the Belgian ‘keeper responded to the shot poorly.
Moments later Verdú was gifted a second goal. Again he picked up the ball in midfield and he was allowed to run forward without any Atléticos stepping up to challenge him. The Catalan finished his run with a powerful strike to double Espanyol’s lead.
Still Atleti hadn’t woken up and after yet more shambolic defending by the entire team we conceded a third. Nobody was there to stop Romaric on his rampant run, and the Ivorian slotted the ball past Courtois after setting up a one-two with Sergio García to make it 3-0.
After half an hour the Rojiblancos finally showed signs of recovery when they pulled one back, albeit with a bit of fortune. Eduardo Salvio’s cross was flicked on by Falcao with his shoulder and the unconventional way of heading was enough to beat ‘keeper Álvarez.
We almost instantly brought the gap down to one, but Mario Suárez’ header was tipped over the bar by the Espanyol captain.
With Falcao’s goal Atlético were provided a lifeline, but instead of picking themselves up and chasing another goal, the players continued their slump and ridiculed the club even further.
At the start of the second half our defenders rolled out the red carpet for Sergio García and the pony-tailed forward profited from the time and space he was given. He made his way through the penalty box to make it 4-1.
Thievy almost scored another, but Courtois was finally able to make a save and pushed the shot wide. He was also called to action when García and Thievy were allowed to make their way through the Atlético box.
Courtois was one of the few players able to improve his performance during the game, because a little later he made another stop from a header by Sergio García.
Arda Turan, Falcao and substitute Adrián worked tirelessly to make the most out of a match that had already been lost, and the Turk scored a great goal in the 82nd minute to make the score a little more bearable. It was Arda‘s first league goal for the club.
No more goals were scored as Espanyol won deservedly, 4-2.
On Thursday we host Rennes at home in the final round of Europa League group action. Coming off two horrible away defeats we can only hope the team improves their performance, but drastic changes will need to be made.
Line-up: Courtois; Perea, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Mario Suárez (“63 Assunção), Gabi, Arda (“84 Koke), Diego; Salvio (“46 Adrián) and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 Verdú (“5); 2-0 Verdú (“7); 3-0 Romaric (“19); 3-1 Falcao (“32); 4-1 Sergio García (“54); 4-2 Arda Turan (“83)