Oh, so that’s what it feels like to lose.
Two moments of brilliance by Valencia were enough to topple Atlético’s record-breaking runs of 23 matches without a loss and 13 straight victories.
In a feisty match at the Mestalla in which most of the action took place in Che territory, Atleti out-shot their opponents 13 to 6, but were out-scored 2-0.
Valencia’s goals were the result of two remarkable individual efforts by Roberto Soldado first, and then much later on into the proceedings by French-Algerian playmaker Sofiane Feghouli, who orchestrated the local side’s killer second goal scored by Nelson ‘The Hobo’ Haedo Valdez.
Curiously, and perhaps evidence of referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes’ fear of the home crowd, our foes fouled us 18 times and four of their players were booked. Four of our players were also booked, but we committed 13 fouls.
Valencia used physical aggression to their favour, frequently breaking down our attacks with harsh challenges. That, combined with their well-organised defence, prevented our hombres from finding a path to the back of the net for the first time in 25 games.
The results of the round left los Colchoneros in second place in La Liga, three points behind league-leaders Barcelona, five ahead of Real Madrid and seven points over fourth-place Málaga.
Our next-closest rivals for a Champions Leage berth, Betis, are in fifth place with 16 points–9 less than our 25, so there’s no reason for the Rojiblanco faithful to hang their heads in shame.
Here’s to kicking-off a whole new win streak starting with Thursday’s trip to Portugal to take on Académica again.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone proud of players in spite of first loss of season
In case there was any doubt about who the good guys are in Madrid, Atleti boss Diego Simeone, in a noble act much like Gabi’s from our midweek trip to Jaén, questioned the fourth official of Saturday’s game regarding the dismissal of his coaching counterpart Mauricio Pellegrino.
According to multiple sources in the Spanish media, ‘El Cholo’, in disbelief, asked the assistant referee, “What, we’re not allowed to say anything now?” as Pellegrino was being shown his marching orders.
With regard to his men’s performance, the Argentine tactician said:
“They’ve played a great game, they’ve given their all and when a team gives it all they’ve got they can win or lose, but one leaves with their mind at peace, thinking about getting back to work and getting started again on Thursday.”
Simeone refused to comment on Teixeira Vitienes’ decision-making.
“I try not to opine about the referees and I hope to maintain that line of thinking,” he said.
“I told him not to send off Pellegrino because it was so early into the game.”
He continued, giving his analysis of the encounter: “In the first half, we managed well in the [attacking third]. The aggressiveness sure was evident, especially in the second half.
“Valencia took advantage of our lack of concentration through a great goal by Soldado. That’s how the first half ended. Later, in the second half, the team went in search of the goal from all over the place, the left, the right, the centre, set piece plays…but Valencia defended themselves well.
“I felt satisfied with the players’ effort. When one gives their all there’s nothing to complain about.”
Falcao bloodied and shut out
Another streak that hit a dead end on Saturday was Falcao’s 11 straight appearances with a goal.
There was an early indicator of the type of night our tiger was going to have when he was tackled in the box and then stomped on by Soldado, the second time in as many games that a cleat has drawn blood from one of our players.
The Colombian was very closely guarded, stalked, harassed, physically abused and violated all night, ending the match with four stitches on his forehead, a scratch under his eye and a swollen lip Cadena SER‘s Hugo Condes reported.
The lethal but good-natured striker turned his misfortunes into a clever little joke on Twitter.
Falcao wrote (bear in mind that puntos in Spanish means both “points” and “stitches”): “Battle wounds, occupational hazards…[we] must carry on! (Who says I didn’t take home the ‘puntos’? Ha!”
The 26-year-old picked a good weekend to go scoreless, as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were also unable to find the back of the net.
His aggressor Soldado told COPE afterwards: “I’ve apologised to Falcao. He just happened to be there when I was stepping back and I caught him with my cleat. I always use plastic ones, but this time I had metal ones.”
“He just happened to be there” Roberto? Video footage showed that Soldado’s backward step was very unnatural, but I’ll let you judge for yourselves (click here for the the clip of the tiger stomp).
The Spanish international even had the audacity to say, “They left us swollen with so many fouls”, conveniently ignoring the fact that he and his team-mates out-fouled our guys by five fouls.
“It’s been a hard match against a tough team, but this loss will not stop us at all,” Juanfran (Canal Plus).
- The last time Atlético failed to score was in their trip to Levante back on the 8th of April.
- Until Saturday, Atleti had only been down on the scoreboard for 21 minutes (16 at Levante, 5 at Betis). (@pedritonumeros)
- Fullback Filipe Luís made his 100th appearance in red and white (72 in La Liga, 4 in cup play, 23 in Europa League and 1 Super Cup). The Brazilian has scored one goal with Atleti (Real Sociedad on 10 April 2011). (@pedritonumeros)
- Atlético have not won at the Mestalla in league play in 10 straight trips. (@Atleti_Vavel)