La Liga: Atlético 2 – 0 Elche
Atlético just three wins away from winning la Liga title
It certainly didn’t come easy, but on Friday night Atlético Madrid extended their winning streak to 8 games.
The Colchoneros earned their 27th victory of the season, the highest in club history, and are now 6 points clear at the top of La Liga with Real Madrid and Barcelona still to play.
Despite playing at home against a midtable team, Atleti struggled to break down their opponents. A number of misses, most of them by the unfortunate David Villa, had the Calderón crowd itching on their seats. But the fans and players breathed a collective sigh of relief when João Miranda finally headed in the opening goal in the 71st minute.
Diego Costa doubled the lead in added time to put the game away.
Elche hadn’t picked up a point at the Vicente Calderón since 1968, but they were arguably the better side in the first half. There were a number of chances early on for Diego Costa, but the visitors dominated possession and earned boos from the crowd as they kept the ball away from Atlético.
After twenty minutes of play Javi Márquez’ low drive lead to a corner kick for Elche, which was headed in by Sapunaru who forced Courtois to an impressive save. A couple of minutes later Carles Gil had the biggest opportunity for the Franjiverdes but he missed the target with his weaker right foot.
Atleti tried to force a goal in the minutes before half time and created two huge opportunities to score. First Adrián found Filipe, but the left back completely mishit what seemed like an easy chance. In the final seconds of the half David Villa missed by a hair after another cross came in from the right.
Diego Simeone didn’t like what he had seen and made all three of his changes early in the second half. This immediately seemed to lead to the opening goal, when fresh sub Raúl García was brought down by Sapunaru inside the box. After Costa missed last week, it was now David Villa’s turn to step up, but the Asturian’s poor attempt was saved by Manu Herrera. It was Atlético’s 4th miss out of 9 penalties this season.
From the ensuing corner, Villa could have made up for the miss but he headed just wide of the target. A few minutes later El Guaje missed another header, which was more than enough reason for Simeone to take off Spain’s all time topscorer.
Atlético continued to threaten from set pieces, but Raúl García too missed a header from close range. A little later Juanfran sent a ball over the top to Diego Costa, but the striker lost his balance just as he was about to finish.
Then, in the 71st minute, it was João Miranda, like Diego Godín last week, who broke the deadlock. The defender scored a fantastic header from José Sosa’s corner kick to put Atlético up 1-0.
A goal down, Elche were forced to push forward, but they had been toothless the entire second half. A fantastic pass by Diego Ribas allowed Costa to double our lead, but Manu Herrera won the 1-on-1. In the added time Diego Costa found himself in a nearly identical position after Filipe Luís played him the ball, but this time the forward was brought down from behind by Sapunaru, who conceded his second penalty and received his second booking.
A threat to his own team, Sapunaru has now caused 5 penalties while playing only 661 minutes this season.
Diego Costa himself stepped up to score the penalty as Atleti won 2-0.
|Diego Costa 91'|
|18 April 2014|
|Raúl García (46')|