La Liga: Atlético 1 – 0 Levante
Atlético move to the top of La Liga as Thomas grabs a late winner
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.
|02 January 2016|