La Liga: Atlético 1 – 0 Levante

Atlético move to the top of La Liga as Thomas grabs a late winner

Thomas Partey celebrates scoring the winner for Atlético

Thomas Partey celebrates scoring the winner for Atlético

Atlético Madrid begin 2016 with a victory, and will end the weekend at the top of La Liga after Barcelona dropped points away at Espanyol.

Continuing the tradition of late goals, Atleti kept the faith and the reward came in the form of a first senior goal for Thomas Partey.

Despite the signing of Augusto Fernández and Kranevitter, it was the midfielder brought through our youth side that secured all three points on Saturday evening after coming on as a substitute.

It was an attacking open to the game for Atlético, who threatened first from a set piece. Saúl almost opened the scoring in the first two minutes, but the midfielder’s glancing header from a corner could only hit the side netting.

Jackson Martínez, starting in place of Fernando Torres, got a shot off to test Mariño, the Levante goalkeeper, but he got down low to make the save.

Saúl saw a shot from distance fly over the bar as Levante closed down Atleti and made them work for space. The visitors were solid in defence and managed to start the odd attack down the left flank with Morales, but the chance was quickly snuffed out by Savic.

Atleti had a penalty shout turned down as the first half reached the midway point. Ángel Correa sprinted forwards into the Levante box and was brought down fairly, in the referee’s opinion, by José Mari who did well to keep up with the Argentine striker.

Stefan Savic almost picked up his first goal in the red and white of Atlético after another Koke corner, but the summer signing was denied by the frame of the Levante goal.

The match wasn’t all going Atleti’s way. The best chance of the first half went to Verza, who managed to get the ball under control and volley a strike at Oblak’s goal. It was a let off for Atleti as the ball flashed wide.

Atleti had the perfect opportunity to take the lead a couple of minutes before half time, but a moment of madness from Antoine Griezmann saw the Frenchman attempt to play in Jackson Martínez despite being clear on goal.

It was a poor pass to the Colombian and Griezmann should have ran forward and tested the goalkeeper.

Levante were let off the hook shortly into the second half when Koke saw a shot rattle against the crossbar and out. It was an excellent display of technique from Koke, who had the ball chested into his path by Jackson Martínez.

The Levante crossbar was shaking for a third time not long after, as a Vietto cross grazed the crossbar as it whipped into the box. The goalkeeper was beaten.

Eyebrows were raised when Koke was replaced on the hour mark. Yannick Carrasco was the substitute, coming on for the final 30 minutes after being left out of the starting line-up.

The chances dried up as the second half played out, and it was looking increasingly like a single goal would be enough to settle the stalemate.

As the game ticked into the final ten minutes, Cholo was putting his faith in the power of youth. Having already replaced Ángel Correa with Luciano Vietto, Simeone introduced Thomas Partey to replace Jackson Martinez. And what a decision that was.

Barely five minutes after coming on, Thomas Partey was a key part of the reason Atlético went 1-0 ahead. Whether or not the goal goes down as an Moriño own goal or not, it was a moment the youngster will never forget.

The Ghanaian-born midfielder picked up the ball after a neat one-two and shuffed the ball through the Levante defence. Powering through, Thomas got a shot away and despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it, the ball trickled into the back of the net as the Vicente Calderón erupted.

Vietto almost doubled the lead with four minutes to go. A Thomas cross was cheekily back-heeled towards the far post but the ball bounced just wide of the goal.

Atlético’s habit of scoring late continues. Simeone’s men have 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, leading La Liga. The desire to finish games strong is what sees Atleti sit at the top of the league. However, fixing our ineffectiveness in front of goal for the first 80 minutes of matches is what is going to keep us there.

Atlético Madrid Levante
Atlético Madrid 10 Levante
Thomas 81' 
Competition Liga BBVA
Location Vicente Calderón
Date 02 January 2016
Kick Off 20:30 CET
  • Kris

    Again we fail to create any clear cut chances… Not a bad performance at all, every other aspect of the game we played very well, but creating chances and scoring?? Terrible again. Another hopeful goal that got us the win. Struggle, Struggle again, struggle some more, and then finally score. This pattern has got me in sweat showers in this cold winter.

  • TaiMaiShu

    It’s always a fluke or a hero moment that gives us the result and it simply isn’t going to hold up. I don’t know how we’re going to fix this, but I also know Celta won’t allow us to scrape through the same way; especially at Balaidos.

  • Koke

    4-3-3 is the right system for us.

    I must say that even though I get frustrated by some of Simeone’s tactics and team selections sometimes, his substitutions were perfect today. Thomas was the MOTM from the minute he came on and Vietto played pretty well in his cameo (if that late backheel went in it would’ve been an incredible goal). Taking off Koke and Martinez is a bold move, but Simeone proves that he isn’t afraid to do whatever he wants.

    Saul is looking better and better every game, he is a future midfield general and he is so calm beyond his years. He is a large part of the reason that I am unimpressed/confused by the Augusto transfer. Savic was an awesome pick up, he has been pretty impressive in every game I’ve seen him in, especially today. He’s very calm but reliable, not an aggressive, athletic beast like Godin and Gimenez but an excellent center back nonetheless for the bench/rotation. Plus he’s a much better long passer than our other CBs. Godin is a beast as always, definitely the best defender in the world IMO.

    What happened to us being the king of set pieces? Last year it seemed like that was the only way we could score, this year it seems like we could get a million corners and fail to threaten.

    I’m still frustrated with the lack of attacking prowess we have. Every single game, we win 1-0. 2-0 if we’re lucky. Of course, those kinds of results can win you leagues and championships, but at the same time, if that’s what happens every single game you’re setting yourself up for failure because you can only get lucky so many times. Every now and then we won’t clinch that 80+ minute goal and we’ll drop needless points. Yes, we hit the bar a few times, but this is a consistent problem that gets more worrying every game. Simeone really needs to focus on making us a more attacking threat. Griezmann should’ve been more selfish today in front of goal.

    I’m really happy for Thomas. He’s so humble and calm, and very talented. I used to think he was a DM but now I think he would excel most in a Yaya Toure kind of role, despite his large, strong build he’s good with his feet, fast, and a great passer. A future gem, and I really hope our two new midfield additions this window don’t ruin his playing time.

    Good to be top of the table. This Liga season seems very similar to 2013-2014 in that the big three are always dropping unnecessary points when you least expect it. Hopefully Madrid lose to Valencia tomorrow and hopefully we capitalize. Aupa Atleti!

  • Mrtn

    This was the rock bottom side of la liga…
    And again we failed to score, create chances, we were dominated in possession in both halves for 5-10 minutes, and they created some chances in front of our goal again.
    And yet again: we are leading la liga with that kind of display! Totally unbelievable for me, but I don’t mind it… 😀
    Vamos Atleti!