La Liga: Atlético 2 – 0 Espanyol
Atleti with comfortable win to keep pace with league leaders
Atlético Madrid ran out winners over Espanyol at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday afternoon with a comfortable 2-0 victory over their Catalan opponents.
It’s no surprise how the goals came about – with two corners providing the chances Atleti needed to put the game beyond a spirited Espanyol side.
It was an extremely packed Calderón for a match that kicked at 11am Spanish time, and they almost got the breakthrough straight away after two good chances fell right to the feet of Arda Turan.
A Koke corner in the second minute was headed on by Tiago at the near post, cutting out the entirety of the Espanyol defence. Arda threw himself towards the ball and connected with a foot, but it brought a fantastic save from Kiko Casilla, the Spanish goalkeeper.
Turan made amends for the miss just a minute later, with a through ball to the Turk played brilliantly down the centre of the park. Arda took his time and slotted the ball efficiently past Casilla, but was rightly ruled offside by the assistant referee.
Atlético enjoyed the early part of the game, dominating possession and created the most chances.
Espanyol set up to play on the counter-attack however, and counter-attack they did in the 13th minute. A break down the left wing by Sergio Garcia almost brought the opening goal.
Garcia whipped in the cross and Cristian Ansaldi did just enough to put off Vasquez, the Real Madrid B loanee, and Moya did his bit with a fine save.
Atleti continued to create the most opportunities, albeit speculative ones.
The first fell to Koke 25 yards out, and the young Spaniard drilled a hard shot low towards goal, where it was tipped wide by Casilla.
Another optimistic effort came a few minutes later, when Raul Garcia attempted an acrobatic overhead kick, but couldn’t get his shot on target.
Crosses continued to be peppered at the Espanyol box, and but for some dodgy goalkeeping and some less than impressive headers, Atleti would have taken the lead.
The breakthrough did come in the 43rd minute, albeit a slight departure from the usual script.
A Koke corner was whipped in and met by a point-blank header from Tiago. However Casilla managed to turn the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner, Atleti tried something a little different.
A short corner to Raul Garcia eventually found it’s way to our captain about 30 yards out. Gabi, on his 300th appearance for Atlético, whipped a beautiful ball into the area. And it was Tiago again who met the cross, guiding a looping header over Casilla into the far corner of the net.
A goal just before half-time was exactly what Atleti needed. Espanyol didn’t look like scoring, but after the break enjoyed a bit more of the possession.
Simeone made his first substitution just after the break, bringing on Mario Suarez to replace our goalscorer Tiago, who took a bit of a knock.
Tiago must have passed some of the magic dust onto Mario when he came off, as it was our substitute who bagged our second goal 20 minutes before the end of the match.
Another set-piece, another goal, and it was yet another Koke corner that started it all.
The long corner was headed back across goal by Godin, and it was his rising compatriot Jose Gimenez who managed to get himself on the end of it.
Jumping above three defenders, Gimenez fired a header towards goal, and it looked to be flying into the corner of the net, but an unmarked Mario Suarez was on hand to steal the glory, and smashed home the ball on the goal line, just to make sure.
Atleti should have perhaps had another, given the amount of chances they created.
Mandzukic found himself through on goal after an excellent first touch, but he could only drive it straight at a stretching Casilla.
Griezmann enjoyed a number of opportunities too, after coming to replace Arda Turan with half an hour left.
The Frenchman, who scored last week for France, found himself with the ball in the middle of the Espanyol half, but couldn’t beat the single defender who was bearing down on him.
Mandzukic and Griezmann did link up in the final stages of the game, after our Croatian striker won the ball and poked it through to our number 7. He broke clear but could only smash the ball into the outside of the post from a tight angle.
The better option would have been to square the ball to Mario Suarez, who had an open goal, but we can’t blame Grizi for trying to score his first league goal for Atleti.
The victory gets Atleti back to winning ways, and gives them fresh confidence going into Wednesday’s home match against Malmo in the Champions League.
Who was your man of the match? What did you make of our front men’s performances?
|Mario Suarez 71'|
|19 October 2014|
|Arda Turan (60')|
|Mario Suarez (53')|
|C Rodriguez (85')|
|Victor Alvarez (63')|
|Sergio Garcia (56')|