Atlético Madrid were 2-1 winners against Segunda B outfit Reus on Tuesday evening, but made hard work of it and had to come from behind to get their Copa del Rey campaign off to a triumphant start.
Before the game, both the team and substitutes wore T-shirts with the words ‘Ánimo Tiago’, showing support for their injured teammate who was ruled out for four months with a fractured tibia earlier in the week.
Fran put the hosts ahead on the half hour mark, but Diego Simeone’s men struck back through Luciano Vietto and Saúl Ñíguez to ensure there wasn’t an upset in the Camp Nou Municipal.
Cholo rang the changes for the match, with only four players keeping their place from Espanyol’s visit at the weekend. Miguel Ángel Moyà started for the first time since March in goal, and Lucas Hernández also made his season debut in defence.
The young defender was paired with Stefan Savic in a makeshift back four, but didn’t have the start that he would’ve hoped for as the Catalans drew first blood.
After a mix-up further up the field, the teenage Frenchman failed to clear his lines and let in striker Fran Carbià, who nipped in ahead of Moyà to slide the ball home.
It was hardly an undeserved opening goal for Reus either, who gave a good account of themselves and proved why they are doing so well this season, especially at home where they were perviously unbeaten.
However, Atleti struck back almost immediately. Like on Saturday, Óliver Torres was the assistant and he played an excellent ball into the box for Luciano Vietto to head home and level the scores.
The Argentine forward has looked a little rusty at times during his short spell with the club so far, and despite missing a few chances tonight will be glad to get the goal under his belt and now look to hopefully push on.
Alongside him, compatriot Ángel Correa was pulling the strings and looked dangerous all night, but also had little luck in front of goal as Reus ‘keeper Edgar stood strong and make a number of fine saves.
In the second half, the rojiblancos took control and got the goal they needed. Saúl Ñíguez was the scorer this time, flicking on Koke’s inswinging corner into the back of the net to edge his team in front.
The cantera midfield of Saúl, Koke, Óliver and Thomas gave a good account of themselves, all playing well and staking their claim for regular inclusion in the team in place of the injured Tiago.
Reus did push for the equaliser as Atleti saw the game out, but despite coming close through David Haro and substitute Ricardo Vaz, just looked to run out of a steam in what was a valiant effort.
The win means that we go into the return leg at the Calderón with a commanding lead and two important away goals, although Reus will still make the trip with some hope of a famous win in two week’s time.
Next up, it’s back to La Liga with another important match, away to strugglers Granada on Saturday evening.