On their annual Día de las Peñas (Fans’ Day), Atlético Madrid beat Real Valladolid by a minimal margin.
A wonderful goal by Diego Godín and a converted penalty by Falcao brought the Rojiblancos two goals up, and at that point the fans seemed to be in for a treat.
However, a howler by Courtois at the start of the second half made for a nervous ending to the match, which in the end resulted in Atlético’s fourth win out of the first five La Liga fixtures.
Atlético played aggressively and showed they wanted to decide the match in the first half. The side created opportunities through the hard work of Arda Turan and Diego Costa, and looked dangerous every time Koke stepped up for a corner or free kick.
However, for most of the first half all of our attacks ended with Pucela ‘keeper Jaime, who did well to stop attempts from Costa, Falcao and Gabi.
After half an hour Atlético broke the deadlock with one of their surprise weapons. Diego Godín had marched forward and wasn’t picked up by any of Valladolid’s defenders. After receiving a perfect pass from Koke, the Uruguayan wonderfully chipped the ball over Jaime, as if he was a specialized goalscorer at work.
Atlético dominated the game and created plenty of opportunities, and it seemed only a matter of time before the score was increased by not just one, but several goals. The visitors looked dangerous just once, when Omar cut inside from the right and fired a powerful shot towards goal, but Courtois did well to stop the Pucela strike.
Shortly before the break Diego Costa won his second penalty in consecutive la Liga games, after he was brought down by Alberto Bueno. The penalty kick was converted by Radamel Falcao, who is racing up the Pichichi ladder with his 5th goal in just 4 appearances this campaign.
It was the sixth consecutive game in which Falcao has played and scored this season, and, including his Super Cup hat-trick and double with the national team, he now already is in double digits (10 goals) just this season.
At half time Falcao stayed behind in the dressing room as a precaution not to worsen a minor groin injury. And so El Tigre keeps sticking them in, with 20 goals in 20 Vicente Calderón appearances, for now.
The first opportunity in the second half was for Atlético, after Godín launched Arda with a beautiful long pass. Unfortunately Arda’s cross was blocked before it could reach Adrián at the second post.
A horrific moment for Thibaut Courtois allowed Real Valladolid to come back into the match. A seemingly easy save on Bueno’s shot was misjudged entirely by the Belgian, who didn’t get his body behind the ball properly. It bounced off his arms and into the net. While Bueno was credited with the goal, and thus made up for his mistake earlier in the game, it really was Courtois who was responsible for the chance at a comeback.
With nothing to lose, and Courtois visibly still shaky, Valladolid pushed forward more. Through a series of set pieces they created chances to equalize, but Atlético managed to hold and extended their win streak to five games.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Koke, Gabi (“61 Mario), Tiago, Arda; Diego Costa (“88 Rodríguez) and Falcao (“46 Adrián).
Goals: 1-0 Godín (“31); 2-0 Falcao p.k. (“45); 2-1 Bueno (“55)