La Liga: Espanyol 1 – 3 Atlético
Atleti come from behind to take all three points in Barcelona
Atlético Madrid came from a goal-down to beat Espanyol 3-1 at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat on Saturday afternoon, keeping the title race alive as they try to chase down Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Despite going a goal down to a Pape Diop header in the first half, a spectacular performance from both Fernando Torres and Koke helped Atlético turn the game on its head and score three goals to take all three points.
The pressure is still on Barcelona, with a lead cut to three points, who face Real Sociedad later on Saturday.
Carrasco caused the first problem for the Espanyol defence after a great cut in from the left-hand flank, but the Belgian got his angles wrong and a shot bounced harmlessly wide of the home team’s goal.
Fernando Torres fired a warning shot to Espanyol in the 17th minute with a move that turned back the years. Looking like the Torres of old, the Spaniard turned the defender with a fantastic turn of pace, but his finish crashed off of the post and back into play.
Yannick Carrasco cut inside again on his right foot to take another shot at goal a few minutes later, but Pau was able to get his hands to it.
Moreno had a chance to test the Atleti defence, but Jan Oblak pulled off a save to deny the Espanyol forward.
A pull back from Duarte on the left almost squirms past Oblak, but the Sloevnian goalkeeper manages to push it wide for an Espanyol corner.
It was from the resulting Espanyol corner that the home side got the opening goal, after some poor defending in the Atlético area.
Juanfran was marking Pape Diop but the Senegalese midfielder managed to outleap the defender and guide the corner into the back of the Atlético net, with the help of the back post. It was a great header from the Espanyol man.
Espanyol weren’t ahead for very long, as Fernando Torres levelled the score in the 35th minute.
A lofted ball forward from Koke was chested to the side by Torres, before he let fly past Pau in the Espanyol goal. 1-1.
The 32-year-old, scoring his third in three matches, had looked threatening all game, and had already beaten Enzo Roco in the Espanyol defence on a number of occasions.
Espanyol continued to threaten the Atleti goal with their set pieces. Their corners in particular seemed to cause problems for what is normally the best defence in La Liga.
The first half drew to a close with chances at both ends. Griezmann came close with a header that went wise, followed by a chance for Victor Sánchez. Again, it was a header that was off target, but a warning for Atlético as the referee blew the half-time whistle.
Antoine Griezmann put Atlético ahead for the first time in the 58th minute. Some excellent link-up play from Koke and Fernando Torres put Griezmann through on goal, before the Frenchman finished with the help of the Espanyol post to make it 2-1 to Atleti.
Atleti came close to a third after a superb through ball from Fernando Torres, but Ángel Correa, on in place of Griezmann, was beaten to the ball by Roco for Espanyol.
Torres had an audacious attempt himself from outside the box a few minutes later, but it was off target. Koke then had a volley saved outstandingly from Pau after some fantastic work from Thomas on the right wing.
Ángel Correa should really have made it 3-1 and put the game to bed in the 81st minute, but the Argentinean couldn’t find the finish after deciding to go it alone. Fernando Torres was perhaps the better option to Correa’s right as he raced towards goal.
Espanyol almost made Atleti sorry for not sealing the victory with four minutes left, as Gerard Moreno fired a shot towards Oblak’s goal, but the Slovenian got down and was equal to it.
With two minutes left, Atlético did eventually get the third goal, and it was Fernando Torres who returned the favour to Koke by setting up a goal for the midfielder.
After an exquisite outside-of-the-boot pass from Koke to find Torres in space, El Niño had a terrible first touch which sent the ball to the racing to the goalline. He managed to chase it down and fire a perfect cross into the box, which met the head of Koke to steer it past Pau in the Espanyol goal.
The referee whistled for full-time not long after, and Atleti will be delighted with a crucial three points and a great performance in the middle of two vital Champions League ties.
Atlético are now three points behind Barcelona (four if you count head-to-head) but the Catalans play later on Saturday evening against Real Sociedad.
Next stop for Los Rojiblancos, Barcelona at the Calderón on Wednesday.
|Diop 29'||Torres 35'|
|Estadi Cornellà-El Prat|
|09 April 2016|