La Liga: Atlético 5 – 1 Betis
Griezmann at the double as five-star rojiblancos demolish Betis
Atlético Madrid warmed up for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona in style this afternoon, hitting five past Real Betis to record their biggest league win of the season.
Antoine Griezmann scored twice, with Fernando Torres, Juanfran and Thomas Partey also on target in a resounding 5-1 win.
We may have our biggest match of the season to come in three days time, but the red and whites stayed true to their mantra, partido a partido, with a thrilling attacking display in front of a capacity crowd.
Simeone had a selection problem ahead of the game after our well-documented defensive crisis, and opted to give 21 year-old defender Nacho Monsalve a debut alongside Lucas Hernández at centre-back.
Fernando Torres also got the nod up front ahead of Luciano Vietto, who pulled out of the squad at the last minute with a bout of gastroenteritis.
It took a while for the game to spring in to life, but Torres it was who opened the scoring on 37 minutes with a trademark finish.
After running onto Koke’s inch-perfect through ball, our number nine took the ball into his stride and lobbed Adán in delightful fashion to register his sixth league goal of the season.
Our only chance up until then had fallen to Koke, who headed against the crossbar early on after Adán made a good save to deny Griezmann.
However, the Betis ‘keeper gifted the Frenchman a goal just before half-time, misjudging his cross into the box and letting it squirm through his hands and into the bottom corner.
It was the former Real Sociedad man’s 50th goal in red and white since joining two summers ago, and probably the most inadvertent that he will ever score.
Adán on the other hand was having quite the afternoon, but he did make up for his mistake with a number of fine saves, denying Torres and Griezmann twice in quick succession before half-time.
The home side picked up just where they left off in the second half, and Griezmann should have had his soon after the re-start after combining with Fernando Torres once more.
El Niño sent his strike-partner clean through on goal with a perfect pass, but Adán made himself big once more to deny Atleti a third goal.
We wouldn’t be waiting long though, with the introduction of Ángel Correa on the hour-mark an inspired one as he replaced the excellent Torres up front.
Correa claimed an assist just minutes after coming on, bamboozling his marker before picking a great pass for an unlikely scorer, Juanfran, to make it 3-0.
The right-back was of course our penalty hero against PSV last month, but hadn’t scored properly since May 2013 away at Celta Vigo. Still, he showed no signs of rustiness and finished in style after a great first touch.
Betis pulled one back ten minutes from the end, the evergreen Rubén Castro taking advantage of a rare mistake from Jan Oblak to smash the ball home and restore some faint hope for the travelling fans.
An awkward bounce fooled the Slovenian ‘keeper as he came to take a cross, but he was given the support of the Calderón who proceeded to chant his name as Atleti went to kick-off again.
Two minutes later our three goal advantage was restored, and once again it was Correa at the heart of it. The youngster ran into the box, cut inside and unselfishly squared the ball to Griezmann, who finished despite Adán’s best efforts.
It was his 26th of the season – nineteen of which have come in La Liga – although the goal was all about the Argentine, who not for the first time opted to pass when he could have easily scored himself.
Grizi turned provider for our fifth goal in injury time, springing to offside trap and laying the ball across for Thomas Partey at the back post, who had the simple task of side-footing into an empty net.
The Ghanaian was featuring for the first time in two months, and gave us a reminder of his talents with an excellent cameo and a goal, his third since returning on loan from Almería.
Cholo said before the match that if his team do their job, any result in the Clásico later on will be a good one. They did so, rampantly, and now sit six points behind Barcelona, and four ahead of Madrid.
Attention can now turn to Tuesday, when it will be our turn to visit the Camp Nou and take on Barça and MSN in the Champions League.
Spirits will be high after such a positive performance today, and with Godín and Carrasco set to return, Atleti will be quietly confident of upsetting the odds in Catalonia.
|Atlético Madrid||51||Real Betis|
|Torres 37'||Castro 79'|
|02 April 2016|
|Xavi Torres (59')|