Atlético Madrid ran out 4-2 winners in a topsy turvy encounter with Málaga on Saturday evening, with Yannick Carrasco one again stealing the show with a man of the match performance.
He and Kevin Gameiro both scored twice, but the home side made things harder than it should’ve been for themselves after Stefan Savic’s red card just past the hour mark.
Málaga were clearly second best for much of the match, but were afforded two fairly cheap goals and will be frustrated not to have taken a point after playing half an hour against ten men, before having Chory Castro sent off late on.
It wasn’t just Atleti who were soft at the back though, the visitors came into the match in the midst of a defensive crisis and it showed, as the home side went in front inside the first ten minutes.
Yannick Carrasco has been in red-hot form lately, and continued in that vein with a well taken opening goal. After picking up the ball on the edge of the box, he beat Bakary Koné and slotted home with his left-foot.
Koné was a doubt before into the match, and he was at fault for the second goal when a poor clearance found it’s way to Kevin Gameiro. The Frenchman had the simple task of taking the ball down and firing past Kameni for 2-0.
At that point, it looked as if Atleti would run riot but they were stopped in there tracks, and had to pay the price when Nico Gaitán injured himself whilst fouling Chory Castro on the left wing.
The Argentine was forced off, and from the resulting free-kick Sandro Ramírez curled the ball past Jan Oblak and into the top corner from the tightest of angles.
It looked at first as if Oblak was at fault and perhaps his position could’ve been better, but the goal looked unstoppable from the replay given just how well it had been struck.
That wasn’t the end of the first half scoring though, and Gameiro restored the home side’s two goal lead with another well taken goal, latching on to Antoine Griezmann’s flick on and finishing in style.
It was Gameiro’s fifth goal of the season, and another sign that our French Connection in attack is starting to blossom. Griezmann should’ve scored himself shortly before, but was denied by the feet of Kameni.
Just when we started to look comfortable again though, referee Estrada Fernández opted to send off Stefan Savic for a second bookable offence.
It was our second red card in as many cards, although a little unfortunate for the Montenegrin defender given that he had lost his footing before clumsily knocking over the Málaga attacker.
The visitors were glad to accept the lifeline, and took immediate advantage as former Atleti canterano nodded home from a corner to set up a nervy finish in the Calderón.
It was another cheap goal for the red and whites to concede, but they stuck to their task well and limited Juande Ramos’ side to no real further chances of note.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Yannick Carrasco made sure of the win with another stunning goal, running on to a long ball and unleashing a splendid drive to beat Kameni from a tight angle.
The goal put daylight between the two sides and allowed the home crowd to draw a collective sigh of relief, but it wasn’t the end of the drama as Málaga were then reduced to 10 men two minutes later.
Chory Castro it was who was given his marching orders, also receiving his second yellow from the card happy referee for the second of two clumsy challenges on Gabi in midfield.
Atleti saw out the final minutes, and claimed a much needed three points after their defeat away at Sevilla last week.
Jan Oblak – 5
Some pointed the blame at him for the first goal, but it was very well placed by Sandro. Not much he could do for the second, but he wasn’t as assured as always. Shoulder problem perhaps causing some discomfort?
Juanfran – 6
Involved throughout, linking up well particularly with Gameiro when he drifted to the right. Didn’t have as many chances to get forward in the second half, but was solid defensively.
Diego Godín – 7
Will be disappointed to have two goals conceded against the team’s name, but he made sure after Málaga’s second goal that they would not be allowed a route back into the match. Commanding last half an hour.
Stefan Savic – 5
Unlucky to see red after losing his footing, but unlike the first yellow it was clumsy and pretty out of character for him. Sending off put real pressure on the team, so will be interesting to see if he keeps his place vs. Rostov on Tuesday
Filipe Luís – 6
Not quite as influential as he often is, but made good use of the ball when he had it. Like Juanfran, he wasn’t able to get forward as much in the second half but helped us see out the win in defence.
Gabi – 7
Put in a lot of work in front of the defence, particularly after Savic’s red card. Made more passes than anybody else on the pitch and probably covered the most ground. Twice fouled by Chory Castro which saw him sent off.
Saúl Ñíguez – 7
Having not started in four weeks, he put in a very mature performance in a deeper role to fill Koke’s void. Played the box-to-box role, and showed his defensive quality with a lot of timely tackles and interceptions.
Nico Gaitán – 5
Gave away the free-kick for Sandro’s goal, injuring himself in the process and having to come off. Pretty hard luck for the Argentine, who is still trying to kick start his Atleti career.
Yannick Carrasco – 8 (Man of the match)
Outstanding once more. Opened the scoring with a great finish, and took the pressure off the team with a stunning fourth goal after a lung-busting run. Has stepped up a level this season and has been arguably our best player.
Antoine Griezmann – 6
Nice cushioned header to set up Gameiro’s goal, but probably should’ve scored himself when 1-on-1 with Kameni. Will be frustrated to have come off early and failed to score for a fourth game running, but we’re sure he’ll be back amongst the goals soon.
Kevin Gameiro – 8
Perhaps his best performance in red and white. Took both goals really well and ran the channels, peeling out wide and causing problems with his pace and link-up play. Has to be first choice now.
Ángel Correa – 6
Some good touches, some not so good ones. Was hard for him to show his quality once we went down to ten men, but always showed for the ball and offered a threat on the counter.
Lucas Hernández – 6
As always, he kept his cool and stepped in at a difficult time to see out the win. Will be interesting to see whether he or Giménez gets the nod at Anoeta next week in Savic’s absence.
Tiago – 6
His substitution at Sevilla last week didn’t have the desired effect, but here his experience was vital to stop Málaga outnumbering us in attack as they chased an equaliser. Deserves more minutes than he’s had recently.
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?