On Sunday afternoon, Atlético grabbed three points against direct rivals Espanyol.
The Rojiblancos started brightly with an early goal for Godín, but struggled in the first half after Dídac equalised. An improved performance, with Arda and Salvio standing out, in the second half led us to an important 3-1 victory.
Both teams attacked the goal in the opening period and Diego’s shot almost gave us an early lead. After cutting inside the Brazilian aimed just wide of the target.
Some minutes later Diego did provide the opening goal. A corner kick by the playmaker was succesfully headed in by Diego Godín to give Atleti a dream start.
But Atlético’s joy was short lived. Although we had started the match strongly, we allowed Espanyol back into the game in the 19th minute. A clumsy pass by Tiago forced Filipe to give away a throw in, from which Sergio García received the ball. The former Spain international wasn’t attacked and crossed to the far post, where left back Dídac Vila, completely unchallenged, scored the equalizer.
After the goal Atleti struggled to pick themselves up and Gabi, already on a yellow card, almost got himself sent off while committing a foul just outside the box. The free kick was beautifully taken by Romaric and smashed against the post.
At the other end Diego set up Falcao, but the Colombian aimed straight at goalkeeper Cristian Álvarez.
In the second half Atlético came fresh out of the dressing room and Salvio immediately threatened with a strike from outside. A little later Toto provided an excellent cross for Falcao who only had to tap it in, but the Colombian was distracted by Arda Turan who jumped ahead in an attempt to head the ball in.
After exactly an hour of play, and after Godín had nearly scored his second, Atlético took the lead again through two great goals by our Turkish maestro. Arda spread the play to Juanfran on the right and received the ball back from the wingback after he had surged towards goal. Arda had the cross played behind him, but didn’t hesitate and scored with a fantastic bicycle kick to make it 2-1.
Just two minutes later Arda Turan scored again after he was at the end of a pass which was played over the top. The 25-year-old cut back past two opponents and scored after the ball curled over the goalline with a little help from the post.
All of Turan’s three league goals this season have come against Espanyol.
The post wasn’t so friendly for Toto Salvio, who hit the woodwork with a furious strike from outside the box. At the other end Coutinho just missed the target for Los Pericos.
Adrián, who was rested but came on in the second half, shot wide and another substitute, Koke, arrived just too late to profit from a rebound after Álvarez had stopped Falcao. In the final minutes Atlético could have scored even more goals to make the Dia del Niño (Kid’s Day) an even bigger spectacle, but Simeone’s men will be satisfied with the convincing 3-1 win, which ties us with Athletic in the 6th place of the La Liga table.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Godín, Domínguez, Filipe; Gabi (“46 Mario), Tiago; Salvio, Diego (“73 Adrián), Arda (“80 Koke); and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 Godín (“9); 1-1 Dídac Vila (“19); 2-1 Arda (“60); 3-1 Arda (“62)