La Liga: Córdoba 0 – 2 Atlético
Atlético back to third after inflicting Cordoba's tenth straight defeat
Atlético Madrid returned to third place in La Liga on Saturday afternoon with a deserved 2-0 victory over bottom side Córdoba in southern Spain.
With Valencia due to play Villarreal tomorrow, Atleti knew that today was a must-win, and that they could move into third for 24 hours at least. Diego Simeone called this game the first of ten ‘cup-finals’. Atleti delivered.
A mistake from Zuculini set up the first goal for Atlético inside five minutes. The midfielder was caught in possession and gave the ball away to a breaking Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman dragged the defender wide and placed the ball with his left foot into the bottom corner of the Córdoba goal from outside the box.
It should certainly have been 2-0 to the champions a few minutes later, after an excellent Griezmann cross was met in the air by Diego Godín, but the Uruguayan defender could only head it straight at the goalkeeper from six yards out.
Our young Frenchman was again causing trouble, after he saw Córdoba goalkeeper Juan Carlos straying away from his line. He fired a low shot towards the goalkeeper’s post, but the goalkeeper managed to get back and take the ball out for an Atlético corner.
Córdoba did have some of the ball in the first half an hour, with Bebe looking particularly dangerous trying to link up with Andone up front.
Simeone made a decision to rest Arda Turan and instead start Saúl, who was fit again after his horrible injury against Leverkusen in February.
It was a decision that paid off, as it was the young Spaniard who made it 2-0 to the champions just six minutes before half-time.
A set-piece right off of the training ground. A Jesús Gámez long throw in to the box was headed on by a waiting Giménez, only for Saúl to rise up and head the ball into the far corner of the net. Atleti lead by two.
Despite being ahead, Atlético weren’t dominating possession. In fact the hosts had 60% of the ball in the first half, but couldn’t convert this into a single shot on target.
Another long throw in the second half almost caught Córdoba out, but the home side were lucky as Griezmann was flagged for offside after an overhead kick attempt.
Córdoba registered their first shot on target six minutes into the second half, but it was a weak header that barely tested Oblak from a tight angle.
Ghilas almost got another rare shot on target a few minutes later after some good footwork in the box. Giménez managed to throw himself in front of the shot from a player that scored twice against Atleti at the Calderón earlier this season.
Atleti are just happy to let Córdoba try to build attacks, wait for their mistakes and play on the counter-attack.
Mandzukic was taken off after an hour and replaced with Fernando Torres. The Croatian didn’t have the best of games and looked disinterested at times, just walking when there was play going on nearby him.
El Niño came on and was very quickly busting a gut to close down Juan Carlos when he had the ball, to the delight of the Atleti fans.
Arda Turan entered the match after 70 minutes, with Simeone deciding to rest Griezmann ahead of Tuesday’s tie with his former club Real Sociedad.
Atleti were happy to play a bit of keep ball as the game closed down, shutting down the odd Córdoba attack before they had a chance to threaten or even get near goal.
That didn’t stop Bebe though, who decided to take matters into his own hands and crack a strike against the crossbar from 30 yards out. Oblak was nowhere near it and was glad to see it hit the woodwork and get clear.
The ex-Manchester United player had another opportunity a couple of minutes later, but whipped his free kick from distance into the side netting.
Godín had another chance to score for Atlético following a Koke corner, but his bullet header was saved well from Juan Carlos, his nemesis for the afternoon.
With 84 minutes of the game gone, after having nothing to do all game, Oblak made the best save of the match. A free kick from Córdoba was lifted into the box, and flicked on high and over Oblak. The Slovenian backtracked, arched his back and batted the ball away.
Atlético closed the game out with little fuss, and turn their attentions toward Tuesday’s match with Real Sociedad. Juanfran was booked, so he will be absent for this.
Who was your Man of the Match? What did you make of Mandzukic’s performance?
|Córdoba||0 2||Atlético Madrid|
|04 April 2015|
|Mario Suárez (45')|
|Fernando Torres (62')|
|Arda Turan (70')|