Menaced all evening long by Villarreal torpedoes Rossi, Nilmar and Cazorla and by the incompetent officiating of Ramírez Domínguez, Atlético was defeated 0-2 at the Madrigal.
Los Rojiblancos will lament missing the golden opportunity that fell into their laps last night when Valencia unexpectedly fell to Mallorca at the Mestalla.
Atlético had the chance of entering the coveted top four spots if they could only manage to snatch a victory away from their direct rivals tonight. Instead, Atleti stumbled all the way down to eighth place with the loss.
Coming into tonight’s match, the big question was whether Quique would go with Diego Forlán up top alongside Kun, or if he would bench the Uruguayan in favor of the on-fire Diego Costa. Quique banked on the Brazilian but the gamble unfortunately did not pay off this time.
Costa had scored in each of our last three Liga fixtures and in four out of our last five matches in all competitions. Forlán meanwhile, arrived in Villarreal mired in his longest scoring drought since the 2005/06 campaign when he was a member of the Yellow Submarine.
Quique also bet on Raúl García who started in place of the more offensive-minded Tiago. The decision suggested Quique was a bit alarmed about Villarreal’s potent attack and felt the back-line needed the extra support, and oh boy did they!
The first half began and ended in controversial fashion. Before the first minute elapsed, Kun took on the Villarreal defence and slotted one through to Simao, who couldn’t control the ball as he tumbled to the ground after being taken down by Bruno in what could’ve easily been called a penalty by referee Ramírez Domínguez.
Atleti quickly had another chance to go up early in the 3rd minute when Costa threaded a pass in to Kun who finished cleanly though was immediately ruled offside by just a whisker.
Our fast start was all for naught as moments later Cani opened up the score-sheet. Nilmar had charged up the field a good number of yards going unchallenged before slicing a pass that split Godín and Perea and found his team-mate on the other side who hit it through De Gea and into the goal.
Atleti had two chances in quick succession in the 22nd and 23rd minutes to level the score, but failed to capitalise on either.
Reyes cut a pass in to Costa who swung and missed and Marchena cleared the ball out of the penalty box avoiding danger.
Right after, La Perla put in another pass, this time to Ujfalusi who made a quick cut before firing well wide of the far post.
As the match proceeded we continued to push forward, trying to find a way into Diego López’s net. Both sides did little to threaten until just moments before the half time whistle blew.
Nilmar streaked past Perea on two occasions showing off his blazing speed, absolutely toasting the Colombian who turned in his second consecutive poor performance.
Fortunately for us, Nilmar squandered both opportunities to double-up his side’s lead, first erring on a lateral pass to Rossi and later being blocked by Perea who recovered just in time to save the Brazilian’s shot.
Ramírez Domínguez then left us all writhing in bitter anger after blinding himself to an illicit challenge on Kun that unquestionably should have been a penalty.
Atleti had a late corner kick that was received by Godín, who ripped a shot saved by Diego López. Kun was there for the rebound and was taking the ball on the line to set himself up for another shot but was tackled by Gonzalo in clearly illegal fashion.
Ramírez Domínguez blew his whistle immediately, and to the disbelief and outrage of Atléticos everywhere, the referee signaled the end of the half ignoring the actions right before his eyes.
The referee was subsequently surrounded by the righteously indignant entire Atlético squad, who demanded justice for the ridiculously blown call. Ramírez Domínguez wielded out his own form of justice, expelling Quique and showing Reyes a yellow card for his protests.
The second half never really took off for Atleti, who were obviously dejected by the calls against them.
In the 52nd minute, Rossi received a pass from Cani and danced around Ujfalusi and Godín before blasting a low near side shot past a diving De Gea to put the Yellows up 2-0.
Forlán and Tiago were brought on minutes later in an attempt to ignite our attack, as we desperately needed a goal to get back in the game.
The referee’s ineptitude continued when in the 62nd minute he failed to see Joan Capdevila trip up Kun in the box preventing our starlet from volleying a pass to the goal.
Our Argentine striker threw his arms up in despair and smiled ironically, wondering what it would take to get the referee to award us a penalty kick.
The pace of the final half hour slowed down appreciably as the Submarine controlled possession cruising along to victory.
Los Colchoneros disappointingly showed no real sense of urgency being down by two, and a crestfallen Quique could do nothing but count the seconds off his watch from the stands.
Juan Carlos Garrido’s men move back up past Barcelona on the Liga table and are now in second place, just a point behind league leaders Real Madrid. Atleti sinks to eighth, its lowest position of the young campaign.
Our men will regroup and travel to Gran Canaria this week to kick off our Copa del Rey campaign against Universidad de las Palmas on Wednesday.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godín, Filipe; Assunçao, Raúl García, Reyes, Simao; Kun and Diego Costa
Subs: Forlán and Tiago (58′), Mérida (79′)
Goals: Cani (9′), Rossi (52′)