La Liga: Atlético 3 – 0 Valencia
Strong second half performance leads Atleti past Valencia
For years Valencia were labeled the third team in Spain, but Sunday night confirmed there no longer is a place for Los Che among La Liga’s elite after Atlético’s resurrection in recent years.
At the Vicente Calderón the visitors were able to keep up with the Rojiblancos for exactly one half, but after the opening 45 minutes Diego Simeone’s men pulled away to win 3-0 and continue their unbeaten streak at home.
One more goal would have seen Atleti go top of La Liga, a position they now share with Barcelona who they equalled in points and goal difference.
The goals were scored by usual suspects Diego Costa and Raúl García. The former added another late on after scoring one of two penalties.
Costa was a threat to Valencia from the early goings. After ten minutes he launched himself and reached the goal line, but he couldn’t connect with any of his teammates as Arda arrived just a second too late.
Valencia did well to keep Valencia far away from goal and even managed to break out quickly after half an hour of play, but Jonas’ cross was easily collected by Courtois. It was the only time the ‘keeper was called to action as the visitors didn’t record a shot on target in the entire game.
Before the break there were two more opportunities for the Colchoneros, but Diego Costa just missed Juanfran’s cross and shortly before the break David Villa allowed Guardado to intervene after Costa slipped him a lovely through ball.
Atlético were much more aggressive at the start of the second half and recorded an early shot on target when Koke found Diego Costa. A few moments later Arda Turan fired just over the crossbar and a low pass across goal by Miranda was backheeled just wide by the excellent Tiago.
After exactly an hour of play Atlético got the goal they deserved after turning defence into offence. Diego Godín won the ball and brought it forward to Diego Costa, who took on Víctor Ruiz and then slotted it in with his left foot to score his 21st of the campaign. It was the 8th consecutive time The Beast scored at the Calderón.
Only four minutes later the lead was doubled by substitute Raúl García, who had entered just a minute before to replace David Villa. After Oriol Romeu failed to clear a cross from Juanfran the ball fell before the feet of RG8, who scored with a low drive to beat Diego Alves for a second time.
Raúl’s great form has helped him become La Liga’s most prolific midfielder with 11 goals, one more than Ivan Rakitic and Gareth Bale.
Other than shots fired wide by Canales and Bernat, there was very little Valencia had to offer on Sunday night.
In the 73rd minute Diego Costa won the ball in midfield and then won a penalty after being brought down by Víctor Ruiz, who couldn’t handle the man from Brazil. But Diego Alves, who has quite a bit of a reputation, denied the striker from the spot kick. It was Alves’ 11th penalty save, the most among all active goalkeepers in la Liga.
However, shortly before the end Diego Costa got a second chance. He won another penalty after being pushed from behind by Barragan and again Costa stepped up himself. This time Costa did convert the penalty to score his 17th in the league and to make it 3-0 to Atleti.
Illustrative of his ambition and desire was Diego Simeone’s demand for his players to pursue another goal, knowing that his team had a chance to jump over Barcelona in the ranking. His team didn’t score any more goals but will have another shot at la Liga’s top position when they take on Getafe next week.
|Diego Costa 60'|
|Raúl García 64'|
|Diego Costa (p.k.) 81'|
|15 December 2013|
|Raúl García (61')|
|Paco Alcácer (59')|