La Liga: Atlético 4 – 1 Levante

Atleti distance themselves from Levante in the second half

Filipe and Elias celebrate the opening goal (Marca)

Filipe and Elias celebrate the opening goal (Marca)

Atlético did their European hopes a world of good on Sunday evening, beating an in-form Levante side by four goals to one in an entertaining encounter at the Vicente Calderon.

Like last week, Atlético again started off the match strongly, but failed to hold on to their lead. But a superb second half performance saw off Levante, who now have to give up their challenge for the European spots.

In the first twenty minutes we pinned Levante down in their half and put pressure on their defence, which resulted in the opening goal from Elias.

The Brazilian curled in a magnificent freekick from the edge of the box, which would have gone in even without taking a slight deflection.

The dead ball was a result of one of Levante’s many bad challenges, as they tried to interrupt Atleti’s play with numerous fouls, kicks and pushes. Fortunately for Atlético referee Estrada Fernández was strict and not afraid to book the offenders.

He also didn’t hesitate for a single second in the 38th minute when Mario Suárez brought down Felipe Caicedo inside the box. Mario should have known better than to come in from behind and although he seemed to play the ball Estrada Fernández pointed to the spot. Caicedo himself converted the penalty kick and put the scores level.

Although this was only Levante’s first opportunity one could have seen the goal coming, as Atleti allowed Levante to grow into the match at the end of the first half. Despite our dominance early on we failed to create many opportunities. Only Elias had two good chances to score, while goals by Agüero and Diego Costa were correctly flagged offside.

The first chance in the second half was for Jefferson Montero who dribbled past two defenders before forcing De Gea to make an outstanding save.

Only minutes after the break it was Agüero who gave Atlético a new lead. The captain saw his shot from outside the box blocked by two Levante defenders but then struck the rebound with incredible accuracy and force, leaving Munúa without a chance.

After the goal the match opened up with chances on either side. First it was Caicedo who had a good opportunity to tie the score again, but his attempt went well wide of De Gea’s goal.

Some minutes later Mario Suárez brilliantly set up Agüero and Diego Costa, but together they couldn’t get the ball in as Javi Venta slid in with a last ditch tackle. And shortly after Diego Costa messed up another opportunity created by Agüero, before Filipe tried a difficult lob over the goalkeeper which ended on top of the goal.

But Atleti’s third goal was inevitable and it arrived when Ballesteros tripped Diego Costa inside the box and the referee awarded the second penalty kick of the night. Agüero calmly converted the spot kick and not only scored his first ever penalty for Atlético, but also tied Diego Forlán’s tally of 96 goals for the club.

To emphasize his great form: Kun has now scored in each of his last six consecutive matches to make it 23 for the season.

Levante’s Valdo got a big opportunity from a header, but the final word was Atleti’s as we scored a fourth goal in the 84th minute. Raúl García headed on a corner from Elias near the first post and Munúa, caught out of position, unfortunately pushed the ball into the net of his own goal.

Diego Forlán, who played the last twenty minutes, had an opportunity to make matters even worse for the visitors, but his toe-poke went past the wrong side of the post.

In the final minutes Quique allowed B-team player Alberto Noguera to make his first team debut for Atlético as he replaced the excellent Elias. The Brazilian and captain Agüero were nothing short of brilliant for Atlético tonight, as we convincingly beat a direct rival for European football next season.

Atleti has now lost only one of the last ten matches, as they travel to A Coruña next week to take on Deportivo in round 34 of La Liga.

Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Domínguez, Filipe; Juanfran (“72 Forlán), Mario Suárez (“81 Assunção), Raúl García, Elias (“85 Noguera); Agüero and Diego Costa.

Goals: 1-0 Elias (“19); 1-1 Caicedo (p.k.)(“39); 2-1 Agüero (“50); 3-1 Agüero (p.k.)(“70); 4-1 Munúa o.g. (“84)

  • SoLobo

    One correction: To the right of the page “our previous match” is “3-1”. By the way… excellent game! And I liked Elias very much!

  • Alias and Juanfran both deserve a mention. Good game from the team overall.

    About Kun: i wonder wheter we are watching the most gifted player in the history of Atletico…

  • Mert

    another correction: “Atlético did their European hopes a world of good on Sunday evening, beating an in-form Levante side by four goals to one in an entertaining encounter at the Vicente Calderón.”


    sorry to knit pick, great collumn as always

  • Javi

    Elias is a great player, he was fantastic in Brasil and I just don’t understand why he gas nit played much here. Otherwise I liked what QSF did tonight except that I would have played Forlan all game in juanfran’s spot. I think juanfran was lost tonight, and all season for that matter, I don’t understand why we picked him up. And I agree that Forlan as a further back forward will do great-if given a chance

  • NiñoTorres

    I thought Juanfran did well, he can be erratic at times but he’s good at beating players and I would imagine is a nuisance to play against. For me he is better than the current version of Simão, and already seems like a popular guy in the dressing room.
    Kun was great as always, and Elías took his chance with both hands. Today he showed why he is a starter for Brazil, he has a very rare combination of skill on the ball, as well energy, power and workrate. Just think what he could be like if Quique played him in his natural position! A lot of people were unhappy with our January business but I really think that Elías/Juanfran could be better for us than Jurado/Simão.
    Also it was nice to see Noguera get a run out. I saw him play last week for Atleti B and he was really involved and positive, so I’m glad this was recognised by the coaches. He seems to have really worked hard to get into the first team. Overall, a good win in what could have been a tricky game without three regular players.

  • Derek Maaijen

    Thanks for the corrections guys. It was so late last night that we might have missed some details 😉

    In the post match press conference Quique said that he’ll have to face some tough choices next week when everybody’s fit, I assume he’s referring to Elias especially. Would you want him to start again next week, at the expense of Koke?

  • Lubo Sklenar

    I did not like the match as you did guys. I think we lacked intensity and a will to fight. After we conceded, I thought it will be an Espanyol match again. We made mistakes in defence, our midfield didn’t help a lot (Raul Garcia was miserable again along with Juanfran). Okay, Elias was good, but I have concerns about Mario Suarez. He made the penalty with that late slide in, he was step behind for that whole match. He looked he has some psychological issues. But he was our only battling midfielder. I did not like Costa, Filipe and Dominguez was horrible too. I’m still wondering how the hell did we score those goals and did not concede more from Levante.
    And about Elias vs. Koke question. I would prefer Elias at the expense of Tiago, with Koke as a starter again. I think, if we don’t need Tiago next season, why would we need him now?

  • Nick Poskitt

    Mert what’s the problem with that? We did win by four goals to one…

  • palc

    We didnt play as good as the scoreline might suggest. Levante was horrible and might be the easiest team we’ve met this season.

  • javi

    I disagree. I thought we played relatively well with a few exceptions: Diego Costa, Juanfran, Raul Garcia. But the rest played very well and with an agressive style. yes mario screwed up on the penalty, but I thought he was ok overall. I agree with replacing Tiago with Elias and bringin in Koke instead of RG. I also want Forlan back in, he is due for some good soccer and has had plenty of rest.

  • palc

    Not sure about Forlan. Why give him playtime when he will be gone in the summer?

  • javi

    We dont know that he will be gone, even though its looking that way, and if we decide to keep him then it might be interesting to see how he does playing a bit back and leaving Kun and Costa up front to get all the defensive attention.

  • javi

    …and…if we want to trade him and he scores a gol per game in the remaining five games, then his trade value goes up.

  • I honestly want Uruguayo back instead of Costa!!! And i have no problems with Juanfran, he was good, and to be honest R.G as usual, shit-to-an-extend actually…not soo bad as usual…Although I’m still afraid of what spectacle might await in Coruña next week…

  • starvs

    I unfortuantely had to watch on a bad quality stream this week and was distracted by my family for a bit of it, but to me Juanfran looked pretty good, not sure why he is getting all this hate. I love that he is always willing to dribble past someone, although possibly at the expense of making a pass, but I don’t think so.

    He may not be starting XI caliber, but I certainly think he has utility for the team and will provide solid depth at our shallowest position if nothing else.

  • Sebyk

    I agree with Lubo – we didn’t play a very good match yesterday. We controlled the game comfortably for the first half an hour, but then a mistake by Mario proved too costly for us. Atleti players didn’t respond well (as almost always – we have a very labile team, don’t we?) and Levante started to overplay us sporadically and create chances. What would happen if De Gea didn’t pull out the outstanding save against Montero? If Kun didn’t show his skills (though his goal was quite lucky), I would fear for the result. Then Levante literally gave us two goals and the game was decided. But honestly I don’t think that the result corresponded to the course of the game.
    I’m starting to feel a bit worried about upcoming matches as we were fairly lucky against Levante and Espanyol as well. Anyway Pericos are fortunately out of form and have difficult matches ahead, so we should seal the seventh place and play the EL next year…

  • javi

    Sebyk, you can argue the same thing but the other way: what if Costa and Kun would have scored on those other two or three near misses that they had?
    I like how we are playing and I think its going to be good from here on out. Yes were not perfect but we are much better than we used to be and we have an easy schedule.

  • Sebyk

    Well, that’s what I mean – we didn’t really overcome Levante, the final result didn’t reflect the course of the game, it was quite a close encounter and we were lucky to come out on top.
    I believe that with current squad we can play much better, even though against Levante many key players were missing. I think that many players underperformed yesterday.

  • Mert