Atlético Madrid were 1-0 winners against Deportivo La Coruña on Saturday afternoon, Antoine Griezmann’s second half winner the difference in a tough match at the Vicente Calderón.
The hosts defended well, but were left with a real uphill task when midfielder Fayçal Fajr was sent off just before half-time for a second bookable offence.
Cholo’s men move up to third, but the win was marred by a serious knee ligament injury sustained by Augusto Fernández in the first half which will most likely result in a long spell on the sidelines.
José María Giménez was also forced off with a thigh strain shortly after. He will be out for a shorter period, although both will undergo tests in the coming days to determine the severity of their injuries.
Depor came with the idea of frustrating Atleti – some would say playing them at their own game – and it worked for 45 minutes at least, Gaizka Garitano’s men defending well and causing problems with their physical style.
However, the game changed on the stroke of half-time when they were reduced to ten men, Fayçal Fajr given his marching orders for a late challenge on Nico Gaitán that left the referee with no choice but to give him a second yellow card.
The game turned into attack vs. defence in the second half as the home side chased the all important winning goal, but Depor stuck to their gunds and continued to defend well.
Goalkeeper Germán Lux was in inspire form and made a string of fine saves, pushing Yannick Carrasco’s long range drive onto the post before saving from the Belgian again and then Correa.
Having been forced into two early subs due to the injuries, Cholo sent on Kevin Gameiro and his impact was instant, the Frenchman giving us a focal point in attack and direct movement in the final third.
The goal finally came on 70 minutes, Gameiro making a clever run to latch onto Juanfran’s pass before squaring for compatriot Antoine Griezmann to tap home.
Griezmann had gone closest to scoring in the first half and had also seen two efforts correctly chalked off for offside, and allowed the Calderón to breathe a collective sigh of relief with his fifth goal of the season.
Atleti just about managed to see the game out, although the numerical disadvantage didn’t stop Depor from pushing for an equaliser and it needed a brave block from Godín to deny Emre Colak a shot on target.
Having made changes ahead of the midweek clash with Bayern Munich, Atlético were given a much more difficult game then they would’ve liked but crucially, got the three points they so craved.
It’s too early to say whether we’re in the title race or not, but the team has responded in the best way to our early season blip and are in a good position to move forward and make a push for the top two.
Jan Oblak – 6
Had little, but as usual when called upon he was on his marks. Quick with his distribution and safe with his hands.
Juanfran – 7
Another good performance, always in support and intelligent with his passing and crossing. Played a part in the goal with a well timed ball for Gameiro.
Diego Godín – 8 (Man of the match)
A warrior at the back. Made a match-winning block at the end and also pushed the team forward from defence, making sure Depor couldn’t do anything on the break.
Josema Giménez – N/A
After a few scuffles with Depor’s Andone, he went off injured in the first half. Looks to have damaged a muscle in his right hamstring, so will face 2-3 weeks on the sidelines.
Filipe Luís – 7
Not quite as involved as he has been in recent weeks, although that’s probably more down to the high standards he has set himself. Had a couple of shots that went off target and made a few dangerous crosses.
Koke – 7
Kept things ticking in midfield, covering a lot of ground and spraying the ball around with confidence. Long passing was very good, definitely growing into the deeper role.
Augusto – N/A
Also had to go off early on, and sadly looks to have torn ligaments in his knee after overstretching in a challenge. Hopefully he’ll make a quick recovery, but a lengthy spell out looks likely. Ánimo!
Nico Gaitán – 7
Like against Sporting, he showed signs of his quality but was in and out of the game. Definitely looks like an Atlético player. Looked to play a lot of one-twos, but not all of them came off.
Yannick Carrasco – 6
Very unlucky to rattle the frame of the goal with a long range effort early in the second half. Surprised to see him go off when he did as he was starting to make an impact, having been fairly quiet up until then.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Flourishing in the freer role that Cholo seems to have given to him. Did a lot of good things on the ball, and was still getting into the box as he did for the goal. Looking like a genuine world class player now.
Ángel Correa – 6
Makes such an impact as a substitute, but not quite as effective as a starter today. To give him his dues, he had some nice touches and worked hard, but needs to work on his decision making.
Gabi – 7
Had his rest cut short following Augusto’s injury, but came on to great effect to carry the midfield and inspire the win. Provided the base for the team to attack and tidied up in front of the defence.
Lucas Hernández – 7
Given that his was his first match of the season, he was excellent when he came on. Reading of the game is second to none, and he made a crucial goal line clearance to deny Depor the opening goal.
Kevin Gameiro – 7
Atleti looked a lot more threatening with him on the pitch. Always looking to run in behind and claims another assist with an intelligent cut back. For us, he should be starting as much as possible.
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?