Taking home all three points from Catalonia hasn’t been easy for Atlético over the last few years, and Sunday evening’s visit to the Cornellà-El Prat certainly looked like a potential banana skin in the chase for Europa League qualification. On the night however, Atleti were close to taking home all 3 points, but two strikes from Osvaldo kept the sides tied in a match which easily could have gone either way.
Atleti got off to a brilliant start and after just 78 seconds Koke scored the opening goal. The Rojiblancos closed the home side down and press into their own box, and when Galán tried to clear a Reyes ball he passed it straight to Koke, who reacted quickly and slotted it into an empty net.
Espanyol’s defence is their Achilles’ heel, and the backline was clearly distraught after the early goal. Atleti managed to keep the opponents in their own half, but this didn’t result in many chances.
In the 17th minute Koke struck a spectacular volley from outside the box, but it went well over the crossbar and the midfielder was injured by the on-rushing Chica. The young goalscorer lasted another twenty minutes but then had to be replaced by Raúl García. First reports indicate that Koke has sustained a minor knee contusion.
As the game went on Espanyol started to grow and their forwards got to see more of the ball. In the 25th minute this lead to a chance for José Callejón, but his shot whistled past the far post.
But while the home side were getting stronger, Atleti could have doubled their lead. Agüero waited just a second too long before pulling the trigger, which allowed Galán to block his shot. From a difficult angle Kun then got another chance on the rebound, but with the goal open it went past the wrong side of the post.
The miss cost us dearly because some minutes later it was Osvaldo who equalised for Espanyol. Juan Verdú, who seemed to create every Espanyol attack tonight, put the striker through on goal. He managed to get a shot away, but it was a deflection from the defending Luis Perea that left De Gea without a chance, and both watched it sail into the back of the Colchonero net.
Los Periquitos even had the chance to take the lead, but nobody could get a touch on Luis García’s freekick and it whistled past Atlético’s goal.
After the break Atleti began to push forward again and this quickly lead to us taking the lead for the second time, although Callejón too deserves some credit. The Espanyol winger intended to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper, but saw the ball intercepted by Kun Agüero who beat Kameni with a delightful little chip.
But again our lead wouldn’t last long. After just an hour of play Verdú again found Osvaldo with a ball over the top and this time the man from Argentina placed it beautifully past De Gea with a diving header.
In the remaining 30 minutes both teams went forward to earn the win in what became an end-to-end match. Atlético came incredibly close with a header by Tiago, but Kameni pulled off a world class save to keep the score level. Shots from outside the box by Mario and Raúl García were off target, while Verdú and Álvaro also weren’t accurate enough with their attempts at the other end.
Despite being the better side for most of the match, Atlético lost two important points at the Cornellá-el Prat today. We allowed Osvaldo to sneak past our defence on two occasions and gave away the lead twice. While a win would have taken us to the fifth spot in the league table, we remain seventh, one point ahead of Espanyol.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godín, Filipe; Reyes, Tiago, Mario, Koke (“42 Raúl García); Agüero and Diego Costa (“81 Juanfran).
Goals: 0-1 Koke (“2); 1-1 Osvaldo (“38); 1-2 Agüero (“49); 2-2 Osvaldo (“59)