La Liga: Atlético 1 – 0 Espanyol
Another strong defensive performance as Atlético claim the points
A single goal was enough to give Atlético Madrid victory over Espanyol on Saturday evening, in a match that typifies Atlético’s season so far.
Frustrating to watch up front with many missed opportunities, it was against the defensive performance that will steal the headlines as Atleti get their fifth clean sheet in their last five games.
It was a surprising starting eleven that took to the field for Atlético.
With no Jackson Martínez through injury, it looked certain that Fernando Torres would continue to fill the hole up front. However Diego Simeone opted for summer-signing Luciano Vietto up top alongside Antoine Griezmann.
Carrasco also dropped to the bench following the match on Wednesday, with Óliver stepping in as a replacement. Gabi missed out through suspension, so Saúl got a rare start.
It will come to you as no surprise however, that the only goal of the game came from that man Antoine Griezmann – fresh from a brace against Galatasaray in midweek.
José Giménez passed forward in the third minute and found Óliver Torres, who skipped past one Espanyol defender and threaded a pass into the box to the Frenchman.
Griezmann got the deftest of touches on the ball with his left-foot, helping the ball on its way through into the back of the net.
It wasn’t all fun and games for Atleti in the first half. Bad news for Atlético was Tiago being forced off of the pitch midway through the first half after what looked like a pretty innocuous tackle on Asensio.
The Portugese, who has played in virtually every game for Atlético this season, was stretchered off in some distress. Fortunately it looks as if it’s not a knee injury, but instead a fracture to his shin bone.
The 34-year-old was taken straight to the hospital to have some tests done to confirm.
Griezmann could have had his second at the beginning of the second half, after a botched clearance by the Espanyol defence. The opposition goalkeeper was equal to it, and Vietto skied the rebound high over the crossbar.
It was to be Vietto’s last contribution, after the forward was replaced by Thomas just before the hour mark. Still hasn’t set the world alight for Atleti, but will be happy with another hour of match practice.
Thomas enjoyed a good first couple of moments, picking out a good lofted ball to Antoine Griezmann, but the Frenchman was flagged for offside.
Óliver Torres had a fantastic opportunity to make it two for Atleti, smashing one at goal from outside the area. Espanyol’s Pau was equal to it and tipped it over the crossbar for a corner.
Fernando Torres replaced Óliver as the game died down, and almost came up with his 100th goal for Atlético after cutting in past a defender and curling a whistling shot over Pau’s crossbar.
Koke hit the outside of the post with a caressed finish after Carrasco danced to the touchline and cut the ball back. Atleti continued to push for the second whilst Espanyol made some offensive changes of their own.
The last real chance of the match came to Thomas, who took a fabolous first touch before letting rip from outside of the area. It took a fantastic save from Pau to deny the youngster from his first senior Atlético goal on his debut.
The referee blew his whistle to mark the end of the match, and it’s another win for Atlético. It’s also the fifth clean sheet in a row, a stat which we’re all used to this season with Jan Oblak between the goalposts.
Onwards to Reus in the Copa del Rey in midweek.
|Estadio Vicente Calderón|
|28 November 2015|