There was no let up in Atlético’s 5-0 thrashing of Real Betis at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday night.
Literally from start to finish, the struggling Verdiblancos found themselves picking the ball out of their own net.
The Rojiblanco faithful were treated to a delightful spectacle that began with the fastest goal in club history scored by Óliver Torres–the player that sparked the most pre-game buzz given his inclusion in the starting line-up in replacement of the ailing Arda Turan.
Atleti supporters also witnessed the triumphant return of David Villa to the scoresheet, while fan favourite Diego Costa also nabbed a goal of his own to extend his lead over Messi and Cristiano.
Though the weekend didn’t begin the way we had hoped — Barcelona beat Real Madrid to retain the top spot in La Liga — it certainly ended with a bang.
A five-point separation from Ancelotti’s men is nothing to complain about and, as an added bonus, we got to witness another epic, kindegartner-like tantrum by Ronaldo.
Next up for Atleti is a Halloween night trip to Andalusia to take on fellow winners on the weekend Granada on Thursday. Then it’s back to Cholo Castle on Sunday to host Athletic Bilbao.
“Atlético Madrid deserve everything they’re achieving. Let’s hope that at the end of the season they can continue to maintain their level of play, because it would be good for Spanish football.” –Betis coach Pepe Mel
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone’s gamble on Óliver paid off immediately
“I think we came into the game well,” Atleti manager Diego Simeone said in his post-game press conference.
“We found the goal right away, but in my judgment, that brought our intensity of play down.”
He continued: “After about 30 to 35 minutes, we began picking ourselves up again. In the second half, the team came out decisively wanting to take the game. We found the paths to the goals and it was a bright performance.”
With regard to Óliver’s appearance in the fold, ‘Cholo’ said:
“The decision was made today. The other day, Villa didn’t play; Raúl played and tore it up. Today, he only played 15 minutes. He deserved to play after his showing in Austria. Adrián came in and fulfilled his job. Óliver came in and fulfilled his. That’s what makes me very happy. Toby’s presence the other day, and the consistent work of our habitual central defenders…”
Óliver scores fastest goal in Atleti history
Atleti’s Golden Boy nominee Óliver Torres (vote for him here) poetically scored on the same day as a former Rojiblanco cantera idol of the same last name.
The 18-year-old’s strike, after just 13 seconds, was the fastest in club history.
“I rarely score goals and the truth is, I think scoring a goal in such a short amount of time on the day of your debut as a starter at the Calderón, with your people, gives you an unimaginable amount of confidence,” the gifted young midfielder said.
“I didn’t know how to celebrate it. Luckily, my teammates came over quickly to grab me so that I wouldn’t get lost.”
As if the moment weren’t magical enough, Óliver explained, “I was trying to look up to the stands, because it’s my father’s birthday, and I wanted to dedicate the goal to him. I’m guessing he cried, out of joy, along with the rest of my family.
“I owe all of this to them because they have always been there for me in the good times and the bad ones.”
Despite the Atlético academy jewel’s terrific outing, Simeone had some tough love for him.
“He offered what we needed from him in flashes, while at other times he didn’t find continuity in the game,” said Simeone.
“We expect a lot more from him. He’s young and all of this helps him gain confidence and get closer to what he can be. He’s a player of ours. Whenever the team needs him and the coach decides [to play him], he feels comfortable and responds like he did today.”
“To wake up knowing that you’re going to start is a marvelous feeling. It’s a dream come true.” – Óliver
Villa bags first brace in La Liga since 2011
Prior to Sunday’s meeting with Betis, David Villa had gone seven straight games without finding the back of the net.
The critics were multiplying by the minute, a trend that should start to reverse its course following ‘El Guaje’s’ dazzling, two-goals-and-an-assist performance on the evening.
The Asturian now has five goals to his name in red and white, along with two assists.
Villa’s second strike, a mighty blast from penalty distance, put the prettiest smile on Cholo’s face.
“In the second half, he found what he lives for: goals,” Simeone said afterwards.
The Argentine tactician has relentlessly defended the forward throughout the early goings of the season.
“I’m happy, not about the goals, but firstly about the team’s victory and because I’m feeling well,” Villa told reporters in the mixed zone.
“I felt good today after a long while of suffering on the pitch. That’s why I had to stop, because of my ankle. At the end of the day, I just had to be calm, because I find myself well and recovered from my injuries and, feeling good on the pitch, I knew that I would start scoring goals sooner or later.”
The 31-year-old then went on to praise his coach Simeone.
“From the first day, in fact, even before I became an Atleti player, he supported me and wanted me here. It was his desire to have me here. Obviously, apart from scoring goals, I have another job to do here and that’s what he praised me for, what I was fulfilling, and I’m happy I could pay back that affection with goals.”
Finally, Villa offered his take on fellow star of the night ‘Oli’.
“He has a huge future ahead of him, that’s why all of us Atléticos that love him and see him every day don’t have to be in a hurry,” he said.
“He had a fantastic match today, beginning with the goal. The fans have years-upon-years ahead of them to enjoy this kid. They just have to be patient because he’s got all it takes to be off the charts.”
Costa takes firm lead over Messi and Ronaldo in the Pichichi standings
With well over half a season left to go, Diego Costa has already achieved a career best single season goal total in La Liga, scoring his 11th in the 65th minute against Betis.
The ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ now has 13 in official play in 2013/14.
“He’s in the middle of an incredible, sensational run,” said attack partner Villa.
“Any ball that you give him he gets to it and finishes it well.”
- Captain Gabi slammed home Atleti’s final goal in the last minute of play after a hard (and very rare) shot on target by Adrián. It was Gabi’s first goal since 2 May 2012 and fifth with los Colchoneros. The 30-year-old didn’t score a single goal last season.
- With his cross to Villa on Atleti’s second goal, Filipe Luís picked up his third assist of the season. That’s three more than the previous campaign, when he very surprisingly had none.
- Koke was credited with the fastest assist in Atleti history on Oli’s opening goal: his eighth overall in the present term. ‘Georgie Resurrection’ leads Spain’s Primera División and all of Europe’s top leagues in the assists category with seven.
- Thibaut Courtois has quickly turned the page on his big slip-up in Barcelona last weekend in our loss to Espanyol. Our Belgian White Chocolate has put together back-to-back clean sheets since and now has four shutouts in La Liga this season and six overall.
- Miranda and Diego Godín, who hadn’t partnered up in defence in the previous two matches, were simply extraordinary. There is no better defensive duo on the planet at the moment.
- Though Atleti committed twice as many fouls as Betis (14 to 7), Betis were shown two yellow cards, while los Rojiblancos were shown none.
- A moment of silence was held prior to kick-off in honour of former Spanish racing driver María de Villota, who tragically passed away on October 11th. Villota drove Atleti’s car in the now-defunct Superleague Formula from 2009 through 2011.