La Liga: Atlético 3 – 1 Levante
Griezmann at the double as Atleti start 2015 with a bang
Fernando Torres watched from the stands as Atleti ushered in the new year with an impressive 3-1 home victory over Valencian side Levante on Saturday afternoon.
The last game of 2014 was a 4-1 win over Athletic, with a second half performance that instilled a sense of optimism among fans and players alike. Atletico Madrid, despite a two week break, carried their momentum on into this game as they started sharp and showed no signs of rustiness. Gimenez and Griezmann both started the match and were pivotal in the success.
Atleti first had the ball in the back of the net as Turan knocked in a flick on from Godin just after 10 minutes of play, but the Turk was adjudged offside by the linesman.
The Madrid outfit did not have to wait long for another as eight minutes later Griezmann was alert in the box and headed home a perfectly weighted cross from Siquiera. The Frenchman’s 4th goal in two games was a relief, none more so than for Griezmann himself as the youngster battles to regain the form that made him lethal whilst playing for La Real.
Atlético outclassed their opponents for the opening 45 minutes, with passing displays that would have any of the elite clubs in Europe envious.
The whole team weighed in with excellent performances but it was Arda Turan who acted as conductor out on the right wing. His nonchalant style proved too much for Levante as he combined fellow right sider Juanfran to set up Mandzukic in the 30th minute, but the Croatian strayed offside.
Our number 9 was inches from doubling the lead in the 36th minute but his effort was stopped by an outstanding reflex save from Diego Marino, who was extremely busy for the remainder of the first 45.
Despite creating chances at will, the score remained 1-0 to Atleti as the referee brought the first half to a close.
Levante were allowed a brief breather during the interval ,but again the home side picked up where they left off in the first half and applied pressure from the get go.
Diego Marino found himself in the mix again as he beat away a powerful header from Mandzukic, only to be picking out the ball from the back of the net as Griezmann nodded home the rebound to grab his second of the game.
The stage was set for Griezmann to secure his second hat trick in two games but the Frenchman had to settle for a brace in the end.
Atleti refused to take their foot off the accelerator as they pushed on for a third. Tiago saw his effort fly into the crowd after an excellent piece of interplay between Mandzukic and Griezmann in the 55th minute.
Levante were reluctant to go down quietly and started to apply some pressure of their own in the second half.
It was Moya this time who was the busiest of the two goalkeepers. The Spaniard just about dealt with a header from inside the box but no sooner was the ball cleared away, was it cannoned back into the chaotic 10 yard area, striking the unaware El Zhar and nestled itself into the bottom corner.
The joint frustration of conceding, by fans and players, was epitomised as Mandzukic lashed out at the post.
Raul Garcia entered the game in the 66th minute replacing the majestic Arda Turan who was later followed off the pitch by Mandzukic, who made way for Mexican forward Raul Jimenez in the 78th minute.
As Levante chased the equaliser Atleti sat back, soaked up the pressure and launched counter attacks of their own. After a plethora of failed attempts at catching out the Valencian side, Raul Garcia looked to buck that trend. Although his cross which had Griezmann’s head written all over it was dealt with, it gave Los Rojiblancos a corner.
Koke, so often the provider, played the ball out to Tiago who had positioned himself just outside the box. The Portuguese lofted a ball through a sea of players which found the forehead of Diego Godín. The Uruguayan got himself on the scoresheet and put the game to bed.
Godín’s archer goal celebration, aswell as the two from Antoine Griezmann tonight, were a homage to new team mate Fernando Torres (which itself was a homage to former Atlético, Kiko). It looks like it’s not only the fans who are excited about the homecoming of El Niño.
After a few more half chances the game came to a close and Atlético start the new year with 3 points.
A confident performance Atleti go into their midweek clash with crosstown rivals Real Madrid in high spirits. The win leaves Atleti third, level on points with Barca and one point behind Real, both of whom play tomorrow.
Who was your man of the match? What did you make of Griezmann’s performance?
|Griezmann 18'||El Zhar 62'|
|03 January 2015|
|Arda Turan (66')|
|Raúl García (66')|
|Raul Jiménez (79')|
|El Zhar (60')|