Champions League: Atlético 4 – 0 Olympiacos
Atleti gain revenge with a comprehensive win over Greek champions
Atlético Madrid have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League after running out deserved 4-0 winners over Olympiacos in a game that the Spanish champions dominated from start to finish.
Raúl García opened the scoring early on, and a clinical Mario Mandžukić added a hat-trick to secure the points for Atlético in a fantastic European night at the Vicente Calderón.
The first chance came in the very first minute, when a scramble in the Olympiacos penalty area almost ended in the first goal. Mario Mandžukić, starting despite a neck injury, couldn’t turn it into the back of the net.
However Atleti didn’t have to wait too long for their first goal, and it came from the man starting in place of Antoine Griezmann – the real Raúl – Raúl García.
It was another display of defensive woe from the Greek side that led to the opener. An excellent Juanfran crossed the ball in, but it wasn’t cleared at all.
It soon ended up at the feet of former Atleti goalkeeper Roberto, who for a moment must have forgotten which team he played for, as he rolled a pass calmly back to Juanfran.
Our right-back pinged it back across goal and a waiting Raúl García got an exquisite touch to turn the ball into the roof of the net.
What followed was relentless attack from Atleti, targeting the left-back position of the Greek champions. They couldn’t deal with Juanfran and Arda Turan, and this ended up in cross after cross.
Olympiacos were extremely weak in defence and struggled continuously to clear the ball. Another defensive error led to the second goal, and Mandžukić’s first.
A cross from Ansaldi, the other half of a fantastic set of performances from our full-backs this evening, was completely missed by Botia, and Mario Mandžukić must have thought it was Christmas come early as he slammed it into the back of the net from six yards out. 2-0.
The first half should have ended 3-0 but a chance that fell to Arda Turan wasn’t converted, and Olympiacos went into the break lucky to only be two goals behind.
Míchel, the Olympiacos manager who had played for Real Madrid for over a decade, tried to fix things with two defensive changes at half time, but it did little to stop the Atleti attack who piled more pressure onto the Greeks.
Roberto had another moment to forget soon after the restart, when he let a backpass get away from him. The Atlético youth product had to scramble back to stop the ball crossing the line, preventing a bizarre own goal.
It was only a matter of time before Olympiacos went further behind, and it was Mario Mandžukić with the goal, getting his name on the scoresheet twice for the first time in his short Atleti career.
The third goal from open play this evening, a well timed Arda Turan cross picked out our Croatian striker, who steered the ball into the far post with his head, showing no sign of the neck injury he had been struggling with all week.
Just three minutes later, Mandžukić had his third of the evening and his first hat-trick for Atlético. A Gabi set piece found the head of our number nine, who buried the ball in the far corner to make it 4-0 to the home side.
It was Mandžukić’s fifth goal in five Champions League games this season. The numbers tell you that he’s becoming an excellent replacement for last season’s hero, Diego Costa.
The Croatian was brought off with 20 minutes to go, replaced with Antoine Griezmann, who was sporting an interesting new haircut.
The Frenchman almost made it 5-0 straight away, after a phenomenal bit of skill from Juanfran saw the right-back beat three Olympiacos defenders, before picking out Griezmann in the middle of the penalty area. The 23-year-old couldn’t get the ball on target though, and headed it half a metre over Roberto’s crossbar.
The ex-Sociedad man did get his name on the scoresheet soon after – or so everyone thought. A delightful cross found Griezmann, unmarked at the far post, who steered a header past a helpless Roberto.
Raúl Jiménez, who was brought on to replace Arda Turan with 30 mins to go, was judged to be in an offside decision, despite not touching the ball, and the goal was ruled out by the German officials.
The result, however, was never in doubt, and Atlético will be delighted to have exacted some revenge over a side that inflicted defeat upon them at the start of this year’s Champions League campaign.
The only downside for this evening was an injury to Tiago, who was replaced at half-time with Mario Suarez after a muscle strain to his right thigh. It’s not known how serious this is yet.
Atleti move into the knockout stages, but must first travel to Turin to face Juventus in a fortnight. A draw, or even a defeat with a better head-to-head record, will see them clinch top-spot and go into the last 16 as group winners.
|Raul Garcia 9'|
|UEFA Champions League|
|26 November 2014|
|Arda Turan (66')|
|Mario Suarez (45')|
|Raul Jimenez (66')|