La Liga: Elche 0 – 2 Atlético
Colchoneros on song in the Costa Blanca to claim all three points
Goals from José María Gimenez and Mario Mandžukić secured a 2-0 win for Atlético Madrid against Elche on Saturday afternoon, an important three points that keep the red and whites in touching distance of the top spots in La Liga.
Diego Simeone brought his trusted XI back in following the midweek Copa del Rey win, and they produced the goods on what turned out to be a fairly comfortable afternoon in the Estadio Martínez Valero.
In a game devoid of many chances or goalmouth action, it was a couple moments of real quality that separated the two teams, although the first goal came from a very unusual source, in particular considering the quality of the goal.
Unsurprisingly, it took the first corner of the match to come about. However, what ensued was something quite special.
Since coming to replace Miranda, teenage defender José Gimenez has really impressed alongside compatriot Godín, and was cruelly denied a goal in midweek for an incorrect offside decision.
This time though, when the chance came his way he made no mistake. Koke and Guilherme Siqueira were both involved, linking up on the left side to play in Arda Turan, and he crossed for the former Danubio man to control and open the scoring with an emphatic volleyed finish.
It was Giménez’s first goal in red and white and a memorable one, reminiscent of another Uruguayan who played for Atleti a few years back.
From that moment on, Atleti took control. With Gabi and Tiago anchoring the midfield, Koke and Arda doing the playmaking, and Raúl García – making his 300th appearance for the club – just off of Mandžukić, they had a noticeable physical advantage over their plucky opponents.
Elche huffed and puffed, but the closest they came to levelling the scores in the first half was completely unintentional. Fayçal Fajr’s deep cross looked destined to fly into the top corner, but thankfully, Miguel Moyá was on guard to bravely tip the ball out from underneath the crossbar.
The second half followed much the same pattern, with Atleti showing the type of assurance we saw in many of our away triumphs last season.
It didn’t take long for the second goal to come, and this time it was one of the usual suspects.
Last week, AS ran an article about Mario Mandžukić and how all of his goals up until now have been one touch finishes, so his goal in the Martínez Valero as something of a surprise.
Gabi picked up the ball in midfield following some good work form Arda, and played Mandžukić in on goal with a clever through ball. Often in this situation, we’ve seen the Croatian run out of legs, but this time he showed the type of composure we saw often from the likes of Diego Costa to hold off his marker, work the angle and coolly slot the ball into the back of the net. 2-0, and daylight between the two teams.
It was another very well worked goal, and a deserved one for the former Bayern man, who now has a very impressive total of 12 for the season so far.
Moments later, the talismanic Arda nearly grabbed a goal himself after springing the offside trap, but was forced wide and couldn’t beat Tyton with his eventual effort.
Elche’s best chance to get back in the game came midway through the half, but in truth, didn’t do near enough to trouble our back line or get anything from the match.
Firstly, Enzo Roco came close with a downward header from a corner, but couldn’t beat Raúl García on the line. From the follow up, Pedro Mosquera tested Moyá, but will probably feel he should have done better than the tame effort he produced.
Antoine Griezmann was introduced for the final 20 minutes and his pace was a constant menace for the home side. The Frenchman’s movement around goal meant that it was Atleti who looked the more like getting the next goal, although openings were few and far between.
With Gabi as imperious as ever in the middle of the park and Koke keeping possession and easing the pressure, the rojiblancos were able to see out the game in expert style and claim a valuable three points in their quest to defend the title.
Next up, another vital game, this time in the Champions League as we look to make sure of top spot in Group A. In Juventus, we face one of the continent’s most formidable team at home, but Simeone and his team will travel to Turin confident of getting a result after five successive wins on the bounce. A draw will do.
|Elche||0 2||Atlético Madrid|
|Manuel Martinez Valero|
|06 December 2014|