Yes, we’re still celebrating Falcao’s late stunner that helped Atlético to their third straight win in the dying minutes of the match and to the club’s best start ever in La Liga.
The Colombian’s free kick goal instantly wiped away any recollection of the previous 89 minutes of the proceedings at Anoeta, particularly a dreadful first half display, and sent Colchoneros throughout the world into a state of utter euphoria for the umpteenth time in recent weeks.
Barcelona’s 5-4 victory in A Coruña in spite of Pizzi’s best efforts — the Portuguese winger we reportedly agreed to shell out €13.5 million for put two past the Culés on Saturday — left us with no choice but to come out the victors over Real Sociedad in order to keep pace with the European giants and remain level in points atop the league standings.
The Txuri-urdin were not in any way intimidated by Atleti’s growing stature in Spain, and with a little more luck could have earned the three points themselves had things gone their way, especially in the first 45 minutes of play.
Atleti struggled mightily to get any sort of rhythm going before a motivated local side fighting to keep their perfect home record intact–and perhaps partially due to the stormy conditions in San Sebastián.
Arda’s tenacity and creativity in midfield were certainly missed by Diego Simeone’s men, but the introduction of Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez with about 30 minutes to spare in replacement of a negligible Raúl García finally invigorated our attack.
The Uruguayan’s determination was hugely important once again, most notably when he trudged forward through a wedgie by Illarramendi that eventually resulted in the foul that set up our game-winning free kick.
The triumph was our record-breaking 10th on the trot and our record-tying 20th match in a row without a loss.
Los Rojiblancos have a very realistic shot at taking their win streak up to 12 matches and their unbeaten streak up to 22, with consecutive home clashes coming up against Académica de Coimbra (on Thursday) and Osasuna (on Sunday).
With 22 points in La Liga, a figure we didn’t reach until mid-January in the last term, we moved back into a first-place tie with Tito Vilanova’s men heading into Match Day 9.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone critical of poor first half, pleased with improvement after the break
“It has gone well for us in the final minutes [lately],” Simeone admitted to reporters following his squad’s latest thriller.
“The team went after the win. It was a very tough match, but that’s what we expected. We didn’t go into the game well. The first half the team wasn’t at the level where it has been in other encounters. La Real had intensity and aggression, without creating clear goal scoring chances, but they did dominate play and created difficulties with regard to our game plan.”
‘El Cholo”continued: “The second half was more evenly played, more of a back and forth. We looked for the victory and they had a counter-attack after a poorly resolved play by us. We had some chances through Falcao to convert.”
The Argentine tactician then gave an account of the moments leading up to ‘El Tigre’s’ match-winner.
“The goal came from a delicious free kick by Falcao,” he said.
“He desperately begged for the ball. He knew he had a chance and his hunger for a goal compelled him. He practices those in training in order to improve in that facet [of his game], and we saw the result of that.”
“’Cholo’ has changed all of our lives.” -Miranda, speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero after the match.
16 goals in last 10 appearances by Falcao
It must be strange for the ultra-religious Radamel Falcao to pray to himself.
In the beginning, the ‘Omnipresent One’ used his silky, coffee-brown locks to spectacularly save a very threatening shot on target by La Real.
Later, he separated the waters, created the sky and smashed home a divine free kick, giving Atleti dominion over the animals and the earth.
It was our ferocious feline’s first free kick goal as a professional in his first ever attempt of the kind, and the strike brought his goal total on the year to 12 in all competitions (9 in league play, 3 in the Super Cup).
Falcao finally relinquished his Pichichi lead to Lionel Messi though, as the Argentine now has 11 league goals following a hat-trick performance on Saturday, but our superstar is tied with Cristiano Ronaldo in second in the scoring chart.
The 26-year-old’s torrid form continues. He has now found the back of the net in each of his last 10 appearances with club and country, scoring 16 times in that span.
“Real Sociedad are very strong at home, no team had beaten them here,” the Rojiblanco idol said after the game.
“It was very hard. We didn’t have many options as it was a very closed game. They didn’t allow us to hold on to the ball when we’d take it.”
His holiness continued: “As an amateur I scored a lot of free kicks, but this was my first as a professional. I had a lot of confidence and thank God the ball went in.”
After thanking himself, Falcao revealed he had spoken to his close friend Gabi before stepping up for the shot.
“He gave me a lot of confidence and encouraged me to take it.”
- Thibaut Courtois earned his third shutout of the season and 27th clean sheet in his time on-loan (sigh) at Atleti.
- Atlético did not score a first half goal for the first time this season in La Liga.
- Sílvio was left off the game-day squad and watched Sunday’s game from the stands. Meanwhile, Kader took the Portuguese fullback’s spot on the bench.