La Liga: Athletic 1 – 4 Atlético
Griezmann scores a hat-trick as Atleti come from behind
Antoine Griezmann scored a hat-trick as Atlético Madrid overcame a shocking first-half performance to beat Athletic 4-1 at San Mames on Sunday night.
Despite being 1-0 down going into the break, Cholo Simeone’s team talk provided the fuel for the fire, and Atleti came back to take all three points.
It was a disastrous first half for Atlético. Struggling to string a number of passes together, they couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm.
The flow of the game didn’t help, as it was consistently broken up by fouls and silly challenges in the opening stages. Aduriz, the Athletic front-man, was at the heart of most of the hefty challenges, while Raul Garcia was more often than not the one committing them.
Without Koke and Mandzukic, both suspended after picking up too many yellow cards this season, Atleti knew they needed to shake up their usual style of play, without the creativity of our midfield maestro or presence of our fighting Croatian.
Eye-catching football wasn’t a feature of the first half. Jose Giménez, stepping in for an injured Miranda, did manage to catch the eye of Muniain however, after a little slap to the face ten minutes in after a tussle between the two.
It was from a sloppy foul that the first goal of the game came. Aduriz again went down under pressure from Raul Garcia, and the resulting free kick was pumped into the Atlético box.
Mikel Rico, one of three Athletic players queuing in the box, rose to meet the set-piece, and it was headed powerfully into the corner of Moyá’s net.
A taste of Atleti’s own medicine, and in truth it was a badly defended set-piece.
The only real chance of the first half for Atleti went to Arda Turan, who couldn’t connect properly with a bouncing ball after a very poor clearance from Iraizoz.
Athletic were winning all of the midfield battles, and should have been 2-0 up in the latter part of the first half, when a Godín slip meant Aduriz had a clear opportunity on goal.
The Athletic striker did well to see off Giménez but it was Siqueira who made up 30 yards to block the shot. The ball rebounded but Moyá did well to put Aduriz off enough to prevent a second shot.
For the entire first half, Iraizoz hadn’t had to make a save, and Atleti hadn’t had a clear opportunity on goal.
This changed within 30 seconds of the restart.
Whatever Simeone said worked, because Atleti were level almost as soon as the second half begun. A nice one-touch passing move in the centre of the park found it’s way out to Juanfran, who whipped in a superb cross, met by the head of Antoine Griezmann. The youngster powerfully drove it into the back of the net. 1-1.
Five minutes later and Atleti had the lead. A lovely backheel from Arda Turan was taken on by Tiago, who got a touch before he was closed down by San Jose. The Portugese midfielder tried to avoid contact, and in truth it looked like he went down a little easily.
The referee pointed to the spot all the same, and Raúl García stepped up to convert the penalty and make it 2-1 to the champions.
From then on it became a wild encounter, with all caution thrown to the wind. Athletic nearly drew level after a corner, but Miguel Angel Moyá again finds himself equal to an Aduriz shot.
The introduction of football to this affair did little to temper the bad mood, and Muniain was lucky to stay on the pitch after taking retribution on Jose Gimenez. The young Uruguyan defender slid in to win the ball, but got a stamp to the right shin from Muniain on the way down. It was lucky nothing was broken.
The rest of the match was the Antoine Griezmann show. The young Frenchman had his second of the evening in the 73rd minute, after a long cross from Gabi caught out an Athletic defender, who slipped trying to recover.
The ball found it’s way through to Griezmann, who after a superb first touch with his heel, finished beautifully with his left-foot to make it 3-1 to Atlético.
There was a touch of fortune about the 23-year-old’s third goal, as a through ball found the striker sprinting towards goal. With everyone thinking he was setting up for a shot, and with the defenders closing in on our number 7, he squared it unselfishly to Raúl García.
The Spaniard’s shot was blocked, and the ball trickled through to an unmarked Griezmann 2 yards out, in front of an open goal. He calmly side-footed it into the back of the net.
Replays show that Griezmann was in an offside position – but the goal was given and Griezmann has his first hat-trick for Atlético.
The game continued in the same vain until the 90th minute, and there will no doubt be a few sore body parts for both teams when they wake up tomorrow morning.
Siqueira, in for the injured Cristian Ansaldi, was replaced in the last ten minutes after Aduriz stamped on his head. Whilst Godín needed treatment in the closing stages after a stray elbow from compatriot Jose Giménez looked like it could have broken his nose.
The referee blew for full-time at San Mames, and Atleti rounded off a fantastic 2014 with an exceptional second half performance. Still third in the table, it was a Jekyll and Hyde showing from Simeone’s men, but one that will give the fans a lot of joy going into the winter break.
What did you make of our performance? Did we get away with it? How good IS Griezmann?
|Athletic Bilbao||14||Atlético Madrid|
|Mikel Rico 17'||Griezmann 46'|
|Raul Garcia (p) 53'|
|21 December 2014|