La Liga: Atlético 2 – 0 Granada
Atleti take all three points against stubborn Granada side
Atlético Madrid kept up the chase with Barcelona and Real Madrid after a 2-0 victory at home against bottom-side Granada on Sunday afternoon.
Atleti were far from their best against a spirited opponent, who had a lot to prove after seeing their manager Joaquin Caparros get the axe during the week.
The Andaluasians didn’t play like a side that were gearing up to face a relegation battle, and at times they looked the favourite to take the lead at the Vicente Calderón.
An early opportunity fell to El-Arabi, after Koke had lost the ball to Nyom. The Cameroonian crossed but El-Arabi headed wide of Miguel Angel Moya’s post.
The visitors followed up with a corner that almost ended up in a goal, Atleti did well to clear the danger.
Simeone’s men did come into the game more as the first half went on. The fans were keen to see how the striking-duo of Fernando Torres and Mandzukic played out, and it was the Spaniard who had the first opportunity.
El Niño showed some great pace to win the ball ahead of the Granada defenders, but did little to trouble the goalkeeper.
Atleti had a couple of penalty appeals turned down after Koke and the excellent Arda Turan hit the deck, but it was Diego Godín who did make the referee blow for a spot-kick after he was bundled to the floor by Sissoko.
Fernando Torres picked up the ball and picked out Godín in the area. A pin-point cross looked to have met the head of the Uruguayan, put he was pulled down from behind by the Granada defender, who was lucky not to see a card from the referee.
Mario Mandzukic stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick emphatically for his 16th goal of the season.
The goalkeeper dived the right way but the accuracy of the Croatian’s strike would have made it difficult for any goalkeeper, and Atleti ended the first half leading 1-0.
Some could argue it was against the run-of-play, but there was no doubt Atleti deserved the victory on the night.
The second half saw the entry of Antoine Griezmann, who replaced Fernando Torres again following a busy hour for the comeback kid. He was lively off the ball and Simeone will be hoping his match fitness will improve so he can play a bigger part for Atleti.
Mandzukic had a chance to make it 2-0 after 60 minutes, but he missed out on his opportunity to score two as he headed it over the bar.
Some excellent awareness from Koke set up Griezmann for a shot in the 70th minute. The Frenchman volleyed a Koke header to his feet but the Granada goalkeeper Oier was equal to it.
There was a few nerves around the Calderón, but these were settled in the 88th minute when the substitute Raúl García came on to head home Atleti’s second goal.
A cross in from Arda Turan was at a delicious height for Garcia, who jumped to compete alongside the Granada defenders. In the end it came off of his shoulder and into the corner of the net, securing Atleti all three points on a day that a win was vital.
Atlético close out the first round of league fixtures four points off the leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more.
Attention turns to the Copa del Rey, and the quarter-final first leg against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
|Mandzukic (p) 34'|
|Raúl García 88'|
|18 January 2015|
|Arda Turan (90')|
|F Torres (59'(|
|Raúl García (84')|
|Raúl Jiménez (90')|
|Juan Carlos (75')|