There had been speculation in the media that Saturday’s match against his former club might be Quique Sánchez Flores’ last one in control of Atlético. Despite losing 2-1 to a late Joaquin goal, the players showed that they’re willing to fight for their coach, with the Rojiblancos dominating for most of the match.
Even after taking the lead with a very early goal, our first in five matches, Atleti couldn’t overcome Valencia. The Oranges started the match in a defensive 5-2-3 and seemed happy to take a point from this encounter, but they stole all three with effective counter football in the second half.
Atleti started off brilliantly. It was Reyes who scored after just two minutes.
He received a pass from Forlán and skipped past two defenders and into the box, where he beat Vicente Guaita with a driven shot towards the far corner. La Perla dedicated his early goal to Sergio Asenjo, who suffered another serious knee ligament injury last week.
After the early setback Valencia had to pick themselves up but they struggled to get near Atlético’s box. Only Joaquín seemed dangerous with his penetrating runs from the right side.
In the 35th minute Atleti almost doubled their lead, but Guaita pulled off an impressive save to keep out Raúl García, who had gotten his head behind a Reyes freekick.
Los Che made us pay for the miss and equalised shortly after. Juan Valera failed to close down Jordi Alba on the left side and the winger’s low cross reached Joaquín near the far post, who was able to slide it in after Luis Perea had completely failed to clear the cross.
Valencia almost turned the match around before the break, Tino Costa’s freekick was volleyed at goal by centre back Ricardo Costa. The Portuguese defender couldn’t get his shot on target with Valera applying defensive pressure.
Atlético got the perfect opportunity to take the lead again in the second half, but the unfortunate Diego Forlán blew it. Atleti were awarded a penalty when Maduro first lost the ball and then clumsily brought down Reyes inside his own box.
Forlán stepped up to take the penalty but his spot kick ended up on the crashing out off the post. It was Forlán’s fourth missed penalty in his last seven attempts.
Another Uruguayan almost made up for his compatriot’s miss, but Godín’s header from a Reyes corner went just wide of the post.
In the remaining half hour Atlético forced Valencia back and earned corner after corner, while Valencia were looking to quickly go forward on the break. The visitors gave their first warning when Jordi Alba hit the sidenetting, but Atleti didn’t pick up on it, because five minutes before the end Joaquín decided the match with his second of the night.
Valencia bombed forward with Topal and Pablo Hernández on the ball. The winger laid if off for his captain who struck it from outside the area into the far corner of the goal, where David de Gea had no chance to reach it.
Atlético weren’t able to recover from the late blow and things became even worse when Diego Godín, who played an excellent match, was sent off with a straight red card after using his arms in an aerial challenge.
Today’s defeat means Atlético have now lost five matches in a row, which will surely fuel more speculation about Quique’s immediate future.
Line-up: De Gea; Valera, Perea, Godín, López; Reyes, Raúl García (“82 Mario Suárez), Tiago, Fran Mérida (“62 Juanfran); Forlán and Agüero.
Goals: 1-0 Reyes (“3); 1-1 Joaquín (“41); 1-2 Joaquín (“86)