Though Radamel Falcao’s last second equaliser against Betis helped Atlético salvage a point on Sunday, it did little to ease the pain of a fan base that had watched their Champions League dreams fizzle out in a matter of seconds just moments earlier.
For a few weeks there, los Colchoneros – along with supporters – were starting to forget what it felt like to be losing. The last time we were trailing in a match prior to Betis’ second goal was over five games ago–in our derby defeat.
It was certainly refreshing to watch Atleti fight until the end as it’s very rare for los Rojiblancos to recover from this type of catastrophe, but that’s hardly a consolation after seeing us blow yet another chance to close in on the top four.
With only three league games left in the season, our hopes of securing a Champions League berth are quickly fading.
A lot of results have to go our way and we can’t afford a single slip-up in our upcoming home fixtures versus Real Sociedad and Málaga.
After those two matches, our following encounter is the Europa League final in Bucharest against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, the 9th of May.
We close out our Liga campaign in Villarreal the weekend after the final.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone laments missed chances
“We could’ve resolved the game, but we didn’t and in football this happens…that in the end you don’t win,” Atleti coach Diego Simeone said in the post-game press conference.
“I don’t think the game was strange or crazy. Rather, I think Atlético played very well and created a lot of clear chances to resolve the [game], but we didn’t.
“The team’s defiance after going down 2-1 with only two or three minutes remaining speaks very well of the players.”
Asked if he thought his men should have been awarded a penalty for a clear foul on Falcao by Betis ‘keeper Fabricio, ‘El Cholo’ responded: “We had way too many chances to score to have to depend on a penalty.”
Koke scores first goal in over a year
In the 63rd minute, we finally opened up the scoring following a fantastic assist by ‘El Tigre’ to Koke, who blasted the ball into the back of the net with his left-foot. The Atleti youth product hadn’t added his name to the scoresheet in over a year, with his last goal coming on 17 April 2011.
The 20-year-old’s strike looked like it was going to be good for three points until los Verdiblancos awoke from their long slumber.
“We had the match under control, we had gone up on the scoreboard, but it wasn’t to be,” Koke told AS afterwards.
“There were three unfortunate minutes in which Betis capitalised on a strategic play and on a very quick counterattack.”
The Spain youth international assured he and his team-mates have “not given up at all” on their undying quest for a top four spot.
“There are still nine points left to play for and we haven’t given up on anything,” he said.
“We still have a chance. We have a fighting spirit in this locker room and we’re going to fight until the very end to achieve our objectives.”
Falcao bags goal number 33 on the season
“We’re sad about the draw, but we have to keep working and press forward,” Falcao wrote on Twitter.
The Colombian came to the rescue with the 33rd goal of his inaugural year in Spain and 23rd in La Liga. The striker also tallied his fourth assist of the season setting up Koke with a brilliantly placed header earlier.
- Spanish radio station COPE reported prior to the match that Arda was kept out of the starting line-up because of stomach problems suffered in the hours leading up to Sunday’s kick off, but the Turk was able to play, coming on for Salvio with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
- Atlético had announced on Friday that Diego had suffered a minor ankle sprain in our midweek match against Valencia. The Brazilian came into the Betis game as a doubt, but trained normally on Saturday and appeared in the fold Sunday, so it seems he has fully overcome the knock.
- Luis Perea sustained a groin strain in practice this week and did not travel to Sevilla. It’s unclear how long the Colombian defender will be out, and the same goes for the still-recovering Antonio López and Sílvio.
- Tiago saw his 10th Primera División booking of the season and will be suspended for Wednesday’s match against Real Sociedad.
- Arda, with 9 yellow cards in La Liga, is one shy of a one-match ban.
- Did you see that? No? Apparently no one else did either. Pedro Martín came on for Tiago in the 93rd minute, playing for about 60 seconds. According to Opta, Pedro is the only player to have appeared in La Liga this year without touching the ball.