La Liga: Atlético 3 – 1 Rayo Vallecano
Griezmann steals the spotlight again as Atleti beat neighbours
Antoine Griezmann put in a fantastic performance to ensure Atlético Madrid ran out 3-1 winners over Madrid rivals Rayo Vallecano at the Vicente Calderón on Saturday evening.
Two goals early in the first half put Atleti in a good position to see out the rest of the match, and despite a goal back from Rayo, the game never looked in doubt as the champions went on to secure a third and all three points.
The first chance of the match fell to Mandzukic, who started up front alongside our French superstar. A free-kick from Gabi was hung up nicely into the area but the Croatian striker could only head wide of the goal.
Mandzukic looked certain to make it 1-0 a couple of minutes later, after the Rayo defence had a melt-down and gave the ball away to a waiting Arda Turan. The Turk fluffed his pass back to the waiting striker, who must have already been celebrating a tap-in in his head.
Atleti didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal however, and it came courtesy of another gift from the Rayo Vallecano defence.
Trying to be too clever at the back was always going to get the visitors into trouble, and when Griezmann intercepted a short pass meant for Ze Castro, they got their just desserts.
The Frenchman burst forward into a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and there was absolutely no doubt of the end result. He opened his body and smashed it to the right of the goalkeeper, who could only watch as the ball hit the back of the net. 11 minutes in, 1-0 to Atleti.
Griezmann had his second ten minutes later, when a clever Mandzukic flick-on put the ex-Sociedad man one-on-one with the goalkeeper again. He took a couple of touches before toe-poking the ball past an on-rushing Toño to make it 2-0. The Vallecano defence should have done better.
Atleti looked to be running away with it, but they took their foot off the pedal after scoring the second. With ten minutes to go until half-time, the visitors got a goal back through Trashorras.
The Spaniard was passed the ball on the edge of Atleti’s 18-yard box, and Giménez and Miranda were slow to close him down. The Rayo midfielder took a step sideways and then curled the ball perfectly inside Miguel Angel Moya’s left-hand post. 2-1.
Against the run of play, the goal seemed to shock Atleti back into life, and they almost had their third goal of the afternoon shortly after. Antoine Griezmann, after cutting inside from the left-wing, had time to stop and pick out a cross for the waiting Mario Mandzukic.
However the Frenchman mishit the cross, and the ball took a wicked swerve and almost flew into Toño’s goal. It was almost a comical goal, if it had gone in.
Atleti did have their third goal not long after half-time, and although the Atleti players ran to congratulate José Giménez, it will go down as a Manucho own-goal.
The corner in from Griezmann was flicked on at the near post by Mario Suarez, and fizzed past the waiting Uruagayan defender. Before he could stick out a leg, the ball bounced up off the thigh of Manucho and into the back of the Rayo net, restoring Atleti’s two-goal cushion.
Despite restoring the advantage, there was no way Griezmann wasn’t going to give his all to secure the second hat-trick of the season. Not 20 seconds after the restart and Antoine was clear on goal, but he scuffed a shot wide of Toño’s left-hand post.
While Atleti were creating the majority of the chances, it was Rayo who should have scored the next goal of the game. Bueno was through on goal after a Trashorras pass caught Miranda sleeping, but the striker couldn’t get enough purchase on the shot and Moya smothered the ball.
Fernando Torres replaced Mario Mandzukic, but if anyone was going to get the next goal, it was going to be our 23-year-old Frenchman.
Griezmann picked up the ball in midfield and burst towards goal, dribbling through a number of Rayo defenders. A little stepover let him cut inside and fool the centre-back, but the Frenchman’s aim was ever so slightly off, as his shot into the opposite corner cannoned off of the post and back into play.
He had one more chance to claim his hat-trick, but the striker unselfishly played in Fernando Torres to get his first league goal since returning to the club on his 250th Atleti appearance.
However Torres tried to beat Toño with a delicate touch, and the keeper managed to get a body part behind it. Raul Garcia tried to revive the chance, but the goalkeeper took it into his grateful arms.
The match ended 3-1, and Atleti will now turn their attention to the Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg on Wednesday, against Barcelona.
Who was your man of the match? What did you make of our players’ performances?
|Atlético Madrid||31||Rayo Vallecano|
|Griezmann 12'||Trashorras 35'|
|Manucho (og) 56'|
|24 January 2015|
|Arda Turan (80')|
|Fernando Torres (70')|
|Raul Garcia (80')|