For a brief spell Atlético looked like a decent team tonight, but during the other 70 minutes they were lacklustre and without the fight expected of them for qualification into the Europa League next season. Racing deservedly kept the three points at El Sardinero with their 2-1 triumph.
Quique surprisingly started with Koke and Elias on the wings and opted for playing José Antonio Reyes next to Kun Agüero, instead of Diego Forlán. Although the Uruguayan is being used as a substitute, he apparently no longer is starting material for Sánchez Flores.
The coach was also forced to make some changes at the back with Godín and Perea unavailable, while he decided to give captain Antonio López a run out instead of Filipe.
In the 11th minute Atlético took the lead when Toño couldn’t punch a Reyes corner past the edge of the box where Mario Suárez happened to be waiting for the ball. The midfielder carefully volleyed the ball into the back of the net with the inside of his foot, and dedicated the goal to his friend Juanfran, who is mourning the death of his father, by holding up the winger’s shirt.
Racing had started aggressively, but after the goal Atleti took control over the match and came very close to doubling their lead but López’s beautifully taken free kick smashed against the crossbar.
It took about half an hour before Racing had their first shot on goal, but it was a sign of things to come. Giovani found Kennedy, who shot straight at De Gea. Some minutes later however, the Swede had more luck against our goalkeeper.
Kennedy took a free kick from the side of the pitch, and since nobody touched it the ball went straight into the net, leaving De Gea stunned. The goal was a carbon copy, albeit taken on the other side, of the goal we conceded to Özil against Real Madrid in the first derby of the season.
Just before the break Kennedy almost scored an identical freekick, but this time De Gea managed to get behind it and punch away the ball, which then fell before Lacen but his shot went well over the target.
After the break Racing continued where they had left off, and within three minutes they took the lead after some shoddy defending from Atlético. Koke lost the ball in midfield to Giovani, who found Rosenberg with a fine through ball. The striker outpaced Domínguez and beat De Gea in the near corner.
It wasn’t a great night for our canteranos and after the goal Giovani continuously got the better of our defenders. In the 56th minute he spun away from Domínguez and got a shot off, which was saved by De Gea, but three minutes later the goalkeeper was without a chance when the Mexican’s blast beat him, but luckily came back off the post.
At that point Atleti had more than half an hour left to tie the score, but even with Forlán and Fran Mérida – who hadn’t featured since our match against Valencia on 12 February – we failed to create any opportunities. Racing comfortably held on to their lead.
After the great form Atlético showed in April, the team suffered its second consecutive defeat, wasting an opportunity to overtake Athletic Bilbao in the league table.
On Sunday the players will get a chance to avenge themselves during our final home game of the season, against Hércules.
Line-up: De Gea; Valera, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, López (“81 Filipe); Elias (“57), Tiago (“85 Tiago), Mario Suárez, Koke; Reyes and Agüero.
Goals: 0-1 Mario Suárez (“11); 1-1 Kennedy (“38); 2-1 Rosenberg (“48)