A cold and largely empty Calderón was the site of a dull 1-1 (6-1 aggregate) draw between Atlético and Universidad de Las Palmas this evening that sent the Gran Canarians packing and Los Rojiblancos on to the next round of the Copa del Rey.
Aside from the prospects of watching promising centre-back Jorge Pulido make his first team debut alongside other cantera stand outs Alberto Perea and Koke, there really wasn’t much to see at the Calderón.
Atleti had taken a significant 5-0 lead in the first leg of the cup tie away in Gran Canaria, so it was going to take an epic comeback in Madrid for Universidad to salvage their cup run.
Given the expected low turnout for the match, it was announced earlier this week that the game would not be televised.
Reports surfaced in the Spanish media hours before kick-off that only 24 of the roughly 13,500 tickets made available had been sold, proving that the television studios’ decision was not unfounded.
In the end, the attendance was estimated at less than 3,000. Among the die-hards present was Atleti twitterer and founder of the Atlético Twitter Fan Club @rickyam, who graciously provided us with live commentary.
Los Rojiblancos pressed on the attack early, winning three corners within the first seven minutes of the match, but were unable to capitalise on any of the chances.
Atleti continued to dominate possession early, and most of the game’s action took place in our attacking third, until the 20th minute.
The first goal of the match came as a result of a mistake by Pulido, who let Universidad striker Aridane win goal side on a through ball into the box. The striker pounced and struck it past a helpless Joel to narrow the wide gap in the aggregate scoreline 5-1.
It appears as if Aridane has had it in for Los Colchoneros, as he scored a goal in his side’s 2-2 draw against Atlético B this past weekend.
After the Universidad goal, Atlético struggled to create many chances, though Diego Costa provided the lone spark in the attack.
Unfortunately, it was Costa who was sent off just before the half for striking an Universidad player with his elbow in retaliation for being hit in the chest. The referee only saw the Brazilian’s aggression and showed him straight red. Costa will now be suspended for Saturday’s home tie against Osasuna.
Mario Suárez, whose presence in the starting XI for the derby was the subject of controversy despite a solid performance, came on for Raúl García after the break.
Fran Mérida missed an easy chance to level the score in the 54th minute, but would soon find redemption.
Despite playing poorly for most of the game, easily giving the ball away to opponents on repeated occasions, the Catalan youngster blasted a left-footed shot off the crossbar and into the goal to tie it at 1-1 in the 75th minute.
Fran had another clear opportunity to give us the lead in the 90th minute, but after juking the goalkeeper he hit it just over the goal.
Koke was taken down in the box in injury time, but as is customary nowadays, a penalty was not given in our favour. The young winger was carted off the field in pain, a shame after having put in a fine performance.
The clash ended with an unspectacular 1-1 (6-1) result, and though it was a nice opportunity for Quique to test out some of the cantera talent, he will lament losing Diego Costa for the weekend’s Liga action. We will also have to await reports to find out the extent of Koke’s injury. Hopefully it was just a minor knock.
According to Ricky, our eyes at the stadium, Joel did not have a good showing. On one occasion in the second half, the young keeper mishandled a ball that could have easily led to a Universidad goal and he looked shaky when defending corners throughout the day.
Lineup: Joel; Perea, Juanito, Pulido, Antonio López; Camacho (Assunção), Raúl García (Mario Suárez), A. Perea (Filipe), Koke; Fran Mérida y Diego Costa.
Goals: 0-1 Aridane; 1-1 Fran Mérida
The next round of Copa del Rey games will be played early in January.