La Liga: Atlético 1 – 0 Granada
Atlético go top with eight games to go
Atletico just about claimed all 3 points as they welcomed Andalucían side Granada to the Vicente Calderón.
A late kick off in the capital saw top of the table Atleti face off against an 11th placed Granada who were looking to extend their 3 match unbeaten run. Emiliano Insua replaced the suspended Filipe Luis at left back. Tiago and Villa were back in the starting line-up which also included Cristian Rodriguez who was gifted a first team start.
Atleti applied pressure from the blow of the whistle and looked to break the deadlock early. Turkish international Turan missed a seemingly easy tap in as he took advantage of a poorly defended Juanfran cross in the 9th minute. Ten minutes later it was Turan again who had the opportunity to put the home side in front as he sliced the ball wide from the edge of the box. Atleti were dominating possession as Granada seemed content to soak up the pressure confronted with them.
Despite not seeing much of the ball, Granada looked dangerous on the counter as Algerian winger Brahimi combined well with centre forward El Arabi to cause danger. Cristian Rodriguez gave his usual 110% effort but couldn’t repay Simeone’s faith with a stand out performance. Diego Costa on the other hand was easily the man of the match as he used all of his physical attributes to demoralise the Granada defence. Costa even made an excellent interception in his own box as he ran almost 70 yards to stop Granada’s counter-attacking move in the 21st minute.
El Arabi proved tough to handle for the Atleti back four, namely for the Brasilian centre back Miranda who was out powered by the 6’2 Moroccan during a corner in the 31st minute but the towering striker could only head wide. Atletico had the ball in the back of the net 6 minutes later from a corner of their own but Tiago’s header was disallowed due to a foul by Godin.
At the break Granada switched their left back Angulo for Foulquier who was on a yellow card. News was also filtering through that title contenders Real Madrid were level 1-1 with Sevilla at half time. Which meant that a win for Atleti would open up a 2 point gap between the two.
The second half started off in the same vein as the first with Atletico pushing for a goal. This inevitably left openings at the back and Granada tried to make the most of counter attacking opportunities. The turning point came when Simeone brought on Diego (for Turan) and Sosa (for Rodriguez). Diego’s flair created headaches for Granada’s defence and Sosa offered more width.
7 minutes after coming on, Sosa delivered his second pin point accurate corner kick which with some help from Diego Costa’s forehead nestled into the Granada goal and made it 1 nil to Los Colchoneros. The goal was Costa’s 24th in La Liga and his 3rd in 3 matches. The Spanish international didn’t rest on his laurels as he chased down every loose ball and seemed unstoppable at times. Raul Garcia replaced David Villa in the 70th minute and effectively broke up Granada’s play. Apart from a stunning long range volley from the captain Gabi in the 75th, Atleti didn’t create too many clear cut chances and began to play deeper and deeper into their own half. Disaster almost struck as Tiago gave away possession cheaply in the 88th minute but Granada failed to capitalise.
Relief engulfed the majority of the Calderon as the referee blew his full time whistle. A slim but hard fought victory for Cholo Simeone’s men saw them reclaim top spot in La Liga as they jumped to 73 points, one above current holders Barcelona. Atleti also moved 3 points ahead of eternal rivals Real Madrid who slipped up away to Sevilla with the final result being a 2-1 loss. Atletico Madrid now focus on their trip to the San Mames as they prepare to face fourth placed Athletic Bilbao on Saturday evening.
|Diego Costa 62'|
|26 March 2014|
|C. Rodríguez (55')|
|Raúl García (69')|