Diego Simeone made a succesful home debut as coach of Atlético Madrid.
The Rojiblancos convincingly beat Villarreal with a brace by Falcao and a goal by Diego (3-0).
Atleti’s new coach, who went up against former teammate and Vicente Calderón-hero José Francisco Molina, had asked for intensity and aggressiveness from his players and they delivered.
From the first minute on Atleti pressed relentlessly and surged forward as soon as we received the ball. Villarreal are known for their possession based game, but not for a moment did the Yellow Submarine get a chance to breathe and pass the ball around.
The first chance was for Falcao, who headed into the hands of Diego López. The cross was delivered by Arda, who set up Diego a little later, but the Brazilian couldn’t get any power behind his shot.
Diego set Adrián up with a huge opportunity early on, but the Spaniard tried to connect with Falcao instead of taking a shot himself.
Arda and Adrián returned to the line-up and proved why Simeone was wrong to let them off the team last week.
The Turkish midfielder even had the chance to score but was stopped by López. The ball was delivered to him by Diego and Juanfran, who together occupied Atleti’s right wing. With Villarreal unable to get off their own half, there was plenty of space for right back Juanfran to run into, and the makeshift defender provided a constant threat down the right side.
The home side pinned the yellows back on their own half and earned several set pieces, one which was almost converted by Diego Godín.
Shortly before the break Atlético opened the scoring. Tiago played a ball over the top to Adrián, who avoided the offside trap and delivered the ball to Radamel Falcao, who only had to tap it in.
Immediately after the break we doubled our lead. Diego played a splicing pass to Adrián, who flicked it on for Falcao. The Colombian striker was tripped by Gonzalo and referee Turienzo Álvarez pointed to the spot. Replays showed that the Villarreal captain made contact just outside of the box, so Atleti caught another lucky break as Falcao himself converted the spot kick.
It was El Tigre’s 7th goal in only three matches against Villarreal, a side he knocked out with FC Porto in the semi finals of last season’s Europa League.
In the remainder of the match Falcao came close to completing his hat-trick, but Diego López denied him a third goal on multiple occasions.
Molina had made two substitutions at the start of the second half, but Villarreal never seemed like getting back into the game. Zapata and Nilmar did hit the sidenetting, but the Valencians should start to seriously worry, having gained only 3 points on the road in this La Liga campaign.
After the defeat on Sunday Villarreal are now 18th in the table.
In the final minutes Atlético added a third. Diego put the crown on his Man of the Match-performance by scoring a beautiful goal. He controlled a pass on his chest and beat López from close range.
Atlético could have scored more after comical defending by Villarreal, but Godín, Miranda, Gabi and Falcao all missed the target.
Our performance, both offensively and defensively, was inspiring and nearly flawless. All players reached a high level, with the likes of Adrián, Diego and Tiago standing out.
Hopefully Atlético can take this form to San Sebastián next week, where they will take on Real Sociedad. The game, which was originally scheduled for the 22th of August last year, will round off the first half of the season.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Diego (“85 Pizzi), Tiago, Gabi, Arda (“63 Salvio); Adrián (“78 Koke) and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 Falcao (“40); 2-0 Falcao p.k. (“51); 3-0 Diego (“80)