Atlético Madrid got the three points at Mestalla on Sunday lunchtime, but doesn’t tell half the story in hard fought game that saw them miss two penalties.
Griezmann and Gameiro got the goals to seal the win over Valencia, but Diego Alves will most likely be the man in the headlines as he denied the visitors not once but twice from the spot.
When Griezmann missed from 12 yards late on against Bayern on Wednesday night, Diego Simeone insisted that he had confidence in his number seven and that he would continue taking the responsibility.
That he did, but just before half-time he missed yet again after Ángel Correa was fouled inside the box, Diego Alves sprawling to his right and getting a strong hand on the ball to send it out for a corner.
Alves has an exceptional record from the spot having saved 22 of 45 faced in his career, and that may have been playing on Grizi’s mind as he missed his fourth penalty from six attempts in red and white.
That could’ve played on the mind of a lesser player, but as we know, Griezmann is one of the world’s best and unsurprisingly, it was he who broke the deadlock in the second half.
Substitutes Carrasco and Torres linked up to force Alves into another save, but Gameiro picked the ball up and set up his compatriot to smash home for 1-0.
Shortly after, Atleti had the chance to kill the match again from the penalty spot, former rojiblanco giving the referee no choice but to whistle again after he scythed down Griezmann.
This time though, the Frenchman passed his duties onto Gabi, but he too was denied by the (almost) impenetrable Diego Alves in quite unbelievable circumstances.
In truth, it was an easier save this time following a fairly tame effort, but compounded Atleti’s woes from the spot and ended Gabi’s perfect record (6 from 6) in La Liga.
The home crowd were encouraged and Valencia pushed for an equaliser, but Atleti’s stand-in defence of Stefan Savic and Lucas Hernández stood strong and made sure that the injured Diego Godín wasn’t missed at the back.
In injury time, Kevin Gameiro made sure of the result and allowed fans to breathe a sigh of relief, running onto a long ball before beating the defender and firing past Alves with his left foot.
It was a goal that both he and the team deserved, and takes Atleti up to top spot in La Liga at least until Real Madrid and Barcelona play later today.
Jan Oblak – 7
Dropped a few shots in the second half which is very uncharacteristic for him, but still had a good game and made some good saves especially to Rodrigo in the first half.
Juanfran – 7
Another very good performance. Was given some trouble early on by Nani but ended up getting the better of the Portuguese winger, also got forward to good effect and put in some useful crosses.
Stefan Savic – 7
Solid, composed, decisive as per usual. He is Jan Oblak in centre-back form. First time he’s played alongside Lucas in La Liga, but they looked like a veteran pairing and dealt with everything thrown at them.
Lucas Hernández – 8 (Man of the match)
Absolutely superb. The fact he is our fourth choice just goes to show the strength Cholo has available to him in defence. Didn’t put a foot wrong all game, and made a great challenge to deny Mina a clear shot on goal in the second half.
Filipe Luís – 7
His form at the moment may well be the best of his whole career. Only criticism we have of him is his crossing, but on the ball he may well be our best player. Best left-back in the world.
Gabi – 7
Penalty aside, he put in another great shift against a combative three man Valencia midfield. His fitness and consistency at 33 is almost unparalleled. Unfortunately though, he may not be the answer to our spot-kick troubles.
Koke – 7
Another good performance in the deeper midfield role. Had a lot of the ball and used it well, hardly ever making a bad decision or a wrong pass. One poor cut-back to Torres at the end, but otherwise we can’t fault him.
Saúl Ñíguez – 5
Had another quiet performance and was guilty of losing the ball sloppily on a few occasions. Lets hope he doesn’t suffer from a drop off in form (like Koke did for a short while), but it’s to be expected given how much he has played.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Missed another penalty, but made up for it with an excellent goal at a crucial time in the match. Very pleasing to see how much he is involved in general play now as well, in the past he was guilty of being too quiet but has stepped it up this season.
Ángel Correa – 6
Tried to make things happen and did well to win the first penalty, but also lost the ball on a few too many occasions and struggled to find rhythm in attack. At the moment, the super-sub role suits him best.
Kevin Gameiro – 8
His best performance in an Atleti shirt. Got a goal and an assist, and was a constant threat to the Valencia defence with his direct running and movement. Took his goal really well, should do his confidence some good.
Yannick Carrasco – 7
Can count himself unlucky to drop out of the line-up after his match winning performance against Bayern. Really had the better of Montoya and was crucial in the opening goal with a clever ball to Torres.
Fernando Torres – 6
He and Carrasco changed the game. Like on Wednesday, his movement gave Valencia another thing to worry about on the break as demonstrated with the goal. Having a good season so far.
Tiago – 5
Covered a lot of ground, but did make a couple of sloppy passes and picked up a cheap yellow card. Perhaps not quite match fit at the moment.
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?