It went a little under the radar following last weekend’s events, but Atlético are in Azerbaijan at the moment on a promotional trip. They strolled to a friendly success against an All Star XI on Tuesday evening.
The Eastern European country have sponsored our shirts since December and have hosted the first team squad in capital city Baku for the last few days, the Rojiblancos experiencing some of the sights the ‘Land of Fire’ has to offer.
However, the leading lights of the Azerbaijan Premier League were no match for Diego Simeone’s team, a late double from Raúl García and Óliver Torres’ first goal for the first team sealing a routine 3-0 win in the Tofiq Bahramov stadium.
With an important game at Deportivo on Saturday, the expectant home crowd were denied the chance to see the likes of Falcao, Arda Turan and Thibaut Courtois in action, but the majority of the team did get a run out, including Juvenil A striker Samuel Villa.
The 18 year-old lined up in attack alongside Adrián and Cebolla, with Óliver partnering Koke and the returning Tiago in midfield. Behind them, there were also rare starts for Emiliano Insúa, Domingo Cisma and Jorge Pulido, whereas Sergio Asenjo was in goal.
Atleti dominated the match and really should have won by more, and had two goals disallowed for offside in the opening exchanges. Just five minutes in, Adrián was presented with the only real opening of the half but fired his effort wide after a solo run.
It was a forgettable half, but was lit up just before the break by a moment of inspiration from one of our youngsters. Cebolla sent in a cross from the left, and after great control, there was Óliver Torres to fire in his first senior goal in red and white.
The teenage midfielder had seen a clever curling effort saved not long before, but made no mistake this time with a neat finish. He also could have had doubled his tally early on in the second half, but again the ‘keeper was on hand.
Saúl, Diego Costa and Raúl García were introduced after the restart, and it was the latter two who had the biggest influence on the game, carving out numerous opportunities and going on to extend the lead.
The Brazilian in particular was guilty of being wasteful in front of goal though, twice being unable to finish when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Raúl García finally made the game safe, tapping home following unselfish play from Mario Súarez. He then added a third, his second, before the end, acrobatically finding the net after Saúl’s original header had been saved.
Earlier in the half he had missed a great chance when he failed to convert Insúa’s delightful cross, but made up for it by putting the gloss on an easy win.
Now Atlético return to Madrid, and will begin preparation for two trips to Galicia in the next week. Depor are this weekend’s opponents in La Coruña, before a midweek clash with Celta, brought forward 10 days because of the cup final.
Line-up: Asenjo; Pulido (“63 Juanfran), Cata Díaz, Cisma (“63 Filipe), Insúa; Tiago (“63 Mario), Koke (“45 Saúl), Óliver Torres; Cristian Rodríguez (“45 Raúl García), Villa (“45 Diego Costa) and Adrián (“63 Gabi).
Goals: 0-1 Óliver (“42); 0-2 Raúl García (“82); 0-3 Raúl García (“87)