The stage was set for a perfect afternoon and Atlético Madrid duly delivered.
The kick off was relatively early, the sun was shining brightly and over 9,800 kids were in attendance in a packed Vicente Calderón on the Día del Niño (Kid’s Day).
Atleti had organised their annual day for young fans as we hosted Granada, a team fighting relegation and looking for their first ever victory at the Calderón.
Perhaps the children’s attendance number should be upped by 11, as this was truly a case of boys playing against men.
With an early goal and five strikes in total, Atleti set the tone for what would be one of their finest games of the season.
In just the fourth minute, Diego Costa opened the scoring when he beat both his defender and the goalkeeper to head the ball into an empty goal. Costa’s goal was set up by Koke, who has assisted all six (!) of the Beast’s goals in la Liga.
Roberto, who replaced Toño for Granada, nearly cost his team another goal just a few minutes later, but the goalkeeper managed to save Falcao’s header after initially hesitating too long with his long kick.
In the 16th minute, Raúl García incorrectly had a goal disallowed for offside. But later in the half the linesman would “make up” for his mistake. At the half hour mark Cebolla Rodríguez launched Diego Costa with a fantastic pass and the Brazilian served the ball on a platter for Radamel Falcao, who doubled our lead but appeared to be offside.
While never really threatening, Granada didn’t do so bad offensively. The Madrid sun caused Thibaut Courtois some problems on high balls, and at the start of the second half Nolito even had a good opportunity to score, but he aimed straight at the Belgian goalkeeper.
Courtois, the frontrunner for this year’s Zamora-award, was able to keep a clean sheet and, with the help of Asenjo (5), set a new club record of 21 shut outs in a season.
In the 47th minute Radamel Falcao notched his second goal when he converted a Koke free kick from close range. His 30th of the season was the final blow for a Granada side which was simply a class below their opponent on Sunday.
The goal got Falcao back to his perfect ratio of 1 for 1 in games at home, while he equalled his total number of league goals from last season (24).
Raúl García came incredibly close with a double attempt, but first his spectacular volley from a Cebolla cross was blocked by Roberto. While sitting down, Raúl’s rebound smashed against the post.
RG8 had more luck a few minutes later. He was in the right place at the right time to score from another poorly defended free kick. The dead ball was delivered by Koke, who totalled an impressive 3 assists on the day.
With the game decided, Simeone took to his bench for some fresh legs and to provide other players some minutes on this festive day. The first sub to come on was Adrián, who slipped the ball to Filipe Luís in the 70th minute. The Brazilian left back subtly chipped the ball over Roberto for Atleti’s fifth goal.
Filipe was then replaced by Emiliano Insúa, who made his first appearance for Atlético. Eighteen-year-old Oli Torres was also introduced by Simeone, which made perfect sense on this day for kids.
At the other end, Diego Buonanotte had one big opportunity for a consolation goal, but nothing went El Graná’s way on Sunday, as Atleti entertained their young crowd with a 5-0 victory.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe (“71 Insúa); Raúl García (“71 Óliver Torres), Gabi, Koke, C. Rodríguez; Diego Costa (“68 Adrián) and Falcao.
Goals: 1-0 Diego Costa (“4); 2-0 Falcao (“28); 3-0 Falcao (“47); 4-0 Raúl García (63); 5-0 Filipe (“70)