After five successive home victories, Atlético lost its first match at the Vicente Calderón this season.
The team slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a hard working Real Betis.
The biggest surprise in Gregorio Manzano’s line-up was the inclusion of Juanfran at right back. The winger replaced Luis Perea, who hadn’t fully recovered from a knock sustained on Thursday against Rennes, and was left off the match selection.
The makeshift wingback created Atleti’s first big opportunity of the game. Juanfran crossed from the right and Falcao headed just inches wide of the post.
The Colombian again just missed the target when his volley whistled past the post only two minutes later.
Real Betis tried to break quickly on the counterattack while Atleti, with Diego in charge, tried to break down the Andalusian defence.
Despite dominating in the first half, the Rojiblancos created few chances. Headers from Godín and shots by Diego weren’t enough to worry Casto, and the Betis goalkeeper did well to stop two shots by Arda Turan shortly before the break.
At the start of the second half Real Betis took the lead. Diego Godín lost the ball in midfield and the visitors switched gears quickly. A cross from the left reached youngster Pozuelo who, after Domínguez slipped, only had Courtois to beat.
With Atleti going down the chants urging Manzano to go increased in volume. When the coach decided to take off Arda Turan and Diego, our best player on the day, the crowd went wild.
Substitute Koke almost immediately tied the score, but Casto pulled off an impressive save to shut out the canterano.
In the 72nd minute goalscorer Pozuelo was dismissed when he received his second booking for a handball, although replays showed referee González got his decision entirely wrong.
A man down, Betis depended even more on their goalkeeper to get a result at the Vicente Calderón and Casto grew even stronger as the match progressed. Adrián seemed almost certain to score with a header, but the Verdiblancos’ shotstopper reacted with an incredible reflex to keep his clean sheet.
As Gabi and Adrián missed more chances to equalise, Betis nearly doubled their lead. Santa Cruz crossed to Jefferson Montero, but the Ecuadorian winger missed the target.
In the added time Roque Santa Cruz did add Betis’ second. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the veteran striker found himself in a position to shoot and after Juanfran failed to make a clearance Santa Cruz pounced on the rebound.
Molina even could have scored a third if it wasn’t for Thibaut Courtois.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Godín, Domínguez, Filipe; Assunção, Gabi (“82 Salvio), Arda Turan (“68 Koke), Diego (“68 Reyes); Adrián and Falcao.
Goals: 0-1 Pozuelo (“54); 0-2 Santa Cruz (“90)