La Liga: Atlético 2 – 1 Hércules

Atleti secure Europa League football with win over Hércules

Domínguez scores the opening goal (Marca)

Domínguez scores the opening goal (Marca)

Quqiue Sanchez Flores’ last home game as manager of Atlético Madrid resulted in a 2-1 win over Hércules on Sunday evening. Goals from Álvaro Domínguez and the outstanding José Antonio Reyes earned all three points for los Colchoneros as they exacted revenge on the side that had humiliated them earlier this season.

We started with a make-shift defence as Godín, Perea and Ujfalusi were all absent, meaning that youngster Jorge Pulido was awarded his la Liga debut. Our opponents were already relegated last week and had nothing to play for, which made for a very interesting and open match.

The game had barely kicked off when Atlético took the lead. Mario’s shot was blocked but fell to Álvaro Dominguez who arrived first to slot the ball into the back of the net.

The centre back celebrated his second goal of the season with all of his teammates and the coaching staff, although Quique remained seated on the bench. The coach was surprisingly calm during the match, but after the final whistle had been blown he showed great emotion as he applauded the fans, who massively thanked him for the two titles he won with the club.

After Portillo had missed a chance for Hércules we continued to attack and Juanfran came very close after Reyes put him through with a perfect pass forward, but goalkeeper Velthuizen kept out the winger’s low shot.

Some minutes later Juanfran was the provider when he delivered a cross to Koke at the far post, but the canterano’s beautifully bent shot hit the inside of both the crossbar and the post, before coming back out.

After half an hour the visitors were awarded a soft penalty kick after referee Iturraldo judged that Pulido had brought down Abraham Paz at a corner, but David de Gea pulled off a magnificent save and kept out Trezeguet’s spot kick.

Later the French forward had another opportunity to score, but he failed to react after Domínguez missed the ball and he failed to get a shot off.

Meanwhile Sergio Agüero had shot just wide after an excellent Atleti counter attack.

Hércules stretched the field which only seemed to benefit Atleti, because our four offensive players had lots of spaces to run into. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make the most of our chances. Just before the break Mario Suárez got a big opportunity to score after Juanfran squared another pass, but Mario too hit the woodwork.

At the start of the second half we lost control of the match, although the first chance was ours. Juan Valera crossed in a great ball but Agüero arrived too late to put it into the back of the net.

Hércules were getting stronger which resulted in chances for Cortés and Portillo, but Koke threw his body in the way of the former’s shot while Portillo’s beautiful free kick hit the crossbar.

In the 67th minute the old fox David Trezeguet took advantage of Pulido’s inexperience and tied the score. A corner was headed on by Juanra and the French striker shrugged off the young defender before walking the ball into the net at the far post.

Atleti were made to pay for their missed chances, but it didn’t take long for us to take the lead again. Just four minutes after the equaliser Reyes played a terrific through pass to Kun, who saw his shot blocked by Velthuizen. The ball landed at the feet of Reyes, who didn’t hesitate and volleyed it in from the edge of the area.

The goal was a reward for Reyes’ performance tonight, who put in a great shift all over the pitch and created plenty of chances for his teammates.

In the final minutes Atleti could have distanced themselves but Agüero was unfortunate in his finishing. First he curled a shot just wide and in the last seconds of the match he missed what seemed like a certain goal. Reyes squared the ball to Juanfran who only had to tap it in, but instead Kun cut out the square pass and shot wide of the post.

With tonight’s victory we’ve secured a Europa League ticket for next season.

Sevilla also won tonight while Athletic tied away at Málaga, which means all three teams now have 55 points with just one matchday left. Due to our negative head-to-head record we’ll have to hope that Sevilla (vs. Espanyol) and/or Athletic (vs. Racing) drop points next week if we want to overtake them in the league.

Line-up:  De Gea; Valera, Pulido, Domínguez, Filipe; Juanfran, Mario Suárez, Tiago (“”78 Assunção), Koke (“83 Elias); Reyes (“92 Noguera) and Agüero.

Goals: 1-0 Domínguez (“2); 1-1 Trezeguet (“67); 2-1 Reyes (“71)

  • palc

    Muchas gracias Quique. Thanks for the memories.


  • Joakim

    Gracias por todos, Quique!

    With that said I can’t respect him after what he did to Forlán tonight. I also find it difficult to acknowledge him as the main reason to our titles, he hasn’t impressed with his tactics, decisions and sometimes statements.

    But. He brought us back to life. Gracias, Quique.

  • Chalet

    I am with you there, Joakim.
    I´m pretty much convinced that Quique´s part in winning those two trophies was a very little one.

  • Don

    It was Forlan’s merit that Atletico won Europa League. Without Forlan they would never have this title. But today Quique didn’t even let Diego say “goodbye” to thousands of his fans and Vincente Calderon, which was him home since 2007 (much longer than Quique’s). Instead, he bowed to the stadium himself, like a hero. Clown.

  • Chalet

    Thank you, Don!
    You took the words right out of my mouth…

  • palc

    Well, Forlan started all of this mess. Thinking he as a player is bigger than Atletico. So he has himself to blame. Although Im very thankful for what he has done for us.

  • Chalet

    I never had this feeling that Forlán was considering himself bigger than Atlético.
    I know that he made this statement that he owes nothing to Atléti.
    But don´t forget that our club is run by a bunch of greedy fumblers and that nobody knows what was already going on behind the scenes at that time and what really made Forlán say this.
    Apart from this – what does “Atlético” and “the club” really mean to the supporters, the management and the players?
    The supporters give all their heart and soul for the club.
    But people should realize that running a football club and being a professional football player nowadays has more to do with business than with sentimental feelings.
    Even Agüero isn´t kissing the badge when he scores a goal -and De Gea isn´t kissing the badge when he saved a penalty.

    Forlán also made this statement that he would consider a good offer and leave the club if it would be of advantage for both Atléti and him.
    Maybe it is just me – but I can´t see anything wrong in these words.
    Forlán is now hated for being honest. But I´m quite sure that he was just saying was almost every single player out there is thinking.
    Forlán didn´t act wisely by doing this. But I prefer this kind of style rather than all those mainstream phrases you normally get to hear from football players.

    When Quique realized that things weren´t going his way at Atléti he decided to move on in search of a new job. But nobody is calling HIM a mercenary…

    I think that Forlán knew exactly that the audience last night at the Calderón would boo and whistle him and call him “mercenario” – as they did before.
    But despite this fact he was there, in the stands, to watch the game.
    I could imagine that Forlán still cares a lot about Atléti.

  • SoLobo

    Forlan at least was in the stands last night… And that was very professional! We can remember what Maniche and Seitaridis had done…

  • 20corona

    Im agreeing 100% with chalet words, Forlan has done nothing wrong besides from having a bad season and consider all he has done for the club we should be supporting him.
    The way he has been treated by the fans is shameful and its sad to see him leaving like that.

  • Sebyk

    Chalet great comment again 🙂

  • Chalet

    @20corona + Sebyk:
    Thank you, guys!
    I´m glad that you like my contributions. 🙂