Atlético lost 1-0 away at Zaragoza due to a late penalty. In the added time of the match Apoño converted from the spot kick to stick a dagger through Atleti’s Champions League ambitions.
Although the Rojiblancos hit the woodwork twice, they simply created too few opportunities to claim a much needed victory in the race for La Liga’s fourth spot.
We were without the injured trio Tiago, Sílvio and Antonio López, while Juanfran and Gabi sat this one out due to suspension.
With Atlético’s clustered schedule Simeone also took the game against La Liga’s bottom-placed team as a chance to rest some players, as Miranda and Mario Suárez sat down on the bench.
Luis Perea, Domínguez and Paulo Assunção took the places of our absent players, while Koke started in the centre of midfield.
Like many of our recent games, the first half saw us struggling to combine in midfield or set up attacks close to the Zaragoza goal. In the midday sun Atlético didn’t seem as energetic as Simeone surely would have liked, but we improved as the half progressed.
After exactly half an hour Atlético created their first opportunity of the game, which should have given us the lead were it not for a complete lack of fortune. After great work from Arda in midfield he assisted Adrián, who hit the crossbar with a thunderous strike. In the rebound the ball fell to Falcao, who hit the post after which the ball again came back into play, leaving Atleti without a goal despite hitting the woodwork twice.
Arda Turan again was our main creative outlet in midfield, while Zaragoza looked to threaten from set pieces. One would think it has become a strategy to approach the game cautiously in the first half, as for the third consecutive match we went into half time without any points on the scoreboard.
After an hour of play Simeone subbed off both centre midfielders to bring on Mario Suárez and Fran Mérida, and for the first time in 30 minutes Atleti again created an opportunity when Falcao headed wide after a fantastic run by Filipe Luís.
With twenty minutes left the coach brought on his third substitution of the day, with Diego replacing Toto Salvio. The Brazilian playmaker returned to the fold after picking up an injury five weeks ago.
Usually Atlético play better in the second half, but against Zaragoza we were unable to improve as we seemed stuck in first gear.
As the game seemed to be coming to an end, disaster struck for Atlético. Far into the added time Diego Godín lunged in with a rash tackle to bring down Hélder Postiga inside the box and Apoño converted the ensuing penalty kick in the 95th minute to win the game for the home side.
Line-up: Courtois; Perea, Godín, Domínguez, Filipe; Salvio (“70 Diego), Koke (“63 Fran Mérida), Assunção (“62 Mario Suárez), Arda; Adrián and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 Apoño p.k. (“95)