Before the weekend Espanyol were in fourth position, but with just one goal scored in all of their away matches this campaign, everyone expected a victory for Atlético tonight.
But Los Pericos showed they deserve to be in the top places in la Liga as they quadrupled their tally on the road and took the three points in the Vicente Calderón.
From the first minutes on Espanyol played on the offensive, and made their intentions clear with early chances for Verdú and Osvaldo.
After twenty minutes the visitors took the lead. First Osvaldo headed just wide from a Luis García cross, but a minute later the Catalonians were awarded a controversial penalty.
Ujfalusi won the ball just outside his own box, but fouled Callejón in the proces. Callejón himself took the freekick and hit Reyes, who jumped up in the wall. Reyes’ hands were covering his body as the ball hit them, but the referee felt it was enough for a penalty.
Luis García converted the spot kick and gave Espanyol the lead.
For Atleti Simão came close to scoring in the first half, but the Portuguese’s finishing let him down tonight. His first shot wasn’t powerful enough to beat Kameni and his second was blocked by Javi López.
In the 36th minute Simão was handed a perfect opportunity to put the sides next to each other, but he unbelievably missed the rebound after Kameni spilled Reyes’ shot.
But in the added time of the first half we did manage to score. Kameni pushed a dangerous shot by Agüero just wide of the post, but from the following corner Tiago equalised. The Portuguese saw his header saved by Kameni, who then also acrobatically stopped Godín in the rebound. But the goalkeeper had no chance on Tiago’s second attempt as the midfielder reached the loose ball first.
After the break Simão’s poor performance was illustrated by another miss, although Kameni must be credited for a great save after Reyes had magnificently put Simão through.
From the following corner it was again Tiago who was allowed to head, but this time his attempt went wide of the goal.
In the 54th minute five Atlético defenders stood by as they watched Verdú and Osvaldo create Espanyol’s second goal. The winger sent away the striker with a long ball, and Osvaldo easily dispatched of Luis Perea with a shoulder barge. He then cut inside to shoot and when De Gea let the shot slip Verdú had the easy task of tapping in the rebound near the far post.
Verdu and Osvaldo could have doubled Espanyol’s lead shortly after, when they found themselves 2 on 1 with Luis Perea. But the goalscorer foolishly played to Osvaldo when he was in an offside position.
Another two minutes later De Gea prevented Osvaldo from scoring with an amazing reflex, as he saved a close range effort with his feet.
On the other end Reyes curled a freekick just wide, but in the 66th minute Atlético again equalised. Diego Forlán cut inside from the left, and found Sergio Agüero with a wonderfully chipped through ball. Kun then had no problems to put it past Kameni and scored his tenth goal of the season.
The home crowd hoped Atlético would be able to push on and score a third goal, but it was Osvaldo who scored on the other end and handed Espanyol the full three points.
Luis García was allowed the time and space to cross, and he found Osvaldo who was left entirely free inside Atleti’s box. The on-loan striker then beautifully smashed the ball in the topcorner and left De Gea without a chance.
Sergio Agüero had one last opportunity to tie this match at 3-3, but after a characteristic turn and acceleration he hit the sidenetting.
Atlético could have overtaken Espanyol in the league table with a win tonight, but now instead see how the gap to a Champions League spot widens.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godín, Filipe; Reyes, Mario, Tiago (“69 Raúl García), Simão (“83 Fran Mérida); Forlán and Agüero
Goals: 0-1 Luis García (p.k.)(“22); 1-1 Tiago (“45+2); 1-2 Verdú (“54); 2-2 Agüero (“66); 2-3 Osvaldo (“78)