Atlético lost in the Europa League tonight and are now on the verge of being knocked out, with just one matchday remaining.
At half time we seemed to have everything under control, but lapses in concentration in the second half saw how Aris secured a shock victory in the Vicente Calderón.
In four of our six matches in November we fell behind in the first half. Today’s Europea League clash against Aris Thessaloniki started even worse, as we conceded within the first two minutes of the match.
David de Gea failed to control a seemingly harmless cross, and the loose ball fell for Javito. The scorer of the solitary goal in our first encounter saw his first shot blocked, and then hit the rebound when the ball fell for his feet again. When the ball came back into play, Aris’ Spaniard Koke was the first to reach to the rebound and he gave the visitors the lead with less than a minute played.
But Atlético bounced back strongly. In the 12th minute Simão and Agüero combined, which resulted in the Portuguese hitting the far post. But Diego Forlán had tagged along and tapped in the rebound off the post.
Five minutes later Sergio Agüero gave us the lead. Álvaro Domínguez launched a long pass to our Argentine striker, and he cooly slotted it past goalkeeper Sifakis. It’s Kun’s tenth goal in as many matches.
We continued to press without creating many opportunities. However, after the break it took us less than 30 seconds to create our first chance. Ujfalusi reached the backline, and his cross was almost converted into an own goal by an Aris defender, who was fortunate to see the ball bounce back into the field from the crossbar.
And two minutes later Reyes almost doubled our lead after a nice individual effort, but he curled the ball just past the wrong side of the post.
Shortly after the match was turned upside down when Aris received a corner kick. Domínguez laid his hand on the back of Lazaridis, and the defender instantly fell to the ground. The referee awarded a penalty which was converted by Koke, who scored his second of the night.
Usually we at AtléticoFans like to steer clear of debate regarding arbitrary decisions, but the amount of times Atlético has been wronged this season is becoming ridiculous. We were stunned by the decision of the Croatian referee, who had ignored a blatant handball by Lazaridis in the first half.
Atlético went searching for another goal, because only a win would qualify us for the next round of the Europa League tonight. But despite strong performances by Agüero and Reyes, we failed to create many clearcut opportunities. Efforts by Kun, Forlán and Reyes were all saved.
Completely against the run of play, Aris even took the lead. Atlético failed to clear a corner, and although De Gea pulled off an amazing reflex at first, he was beaten by Lazaridis after a massive collective error.
Aris undeservedly took the lead and held on to it in the remaining ten minutes. They are the first ever Greek team to win a European match on Spanish soil.
They now have seven points in the Europa League, just like Atlético. But Aris have a superior head-to-head record and host Rosenborg in the final game. Atlético travel to Leverkusen, who have already qualified, and know that they must finish above Aris in the group if they want to continue defending their title.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Godín, Domínguez, López (“86 Raúl García); Reyes, Tiago (“86 Fran Mérida), Mario, Simão (“73 Diego Costa); Forlán and Agüero.
Goals: 0-1 (“1 Koke); 1-1 Forlán (“11); 2-1 (“15) Agüero; 2-2 Koke (p.k.) (“51); 2-3 Lazaridis (“81)